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DREAM Act No Longer Bipartisan

May 12, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

For years, comprehensive immigration reform was a bipartisan issue. But with Barack Obama as President it has suddenly become extremely divisive. In the past two years, just about every congressional Republican that once supported a comprehensive plan that includes a path to citizenship for some of the 12 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. has changed their position. Now that Senate Democrats are reintroducing the extremely-scaled back DREAM Act, which would only apply to immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, the extent to which Republicans are balking is becoming even more clear.

Amanda Terkel reports:

Senate Democrats reintroduced the DREAM Act on Wednesday without the co-sponsorship of Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), who had previously been one of the bill’s strongest backers.

The legislation would allow some undocumented young people to become U.S. citizens and has been introduced repeatedly over the years with Lugar and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) as the cosponsors. The most recent vote on the DREAM Act was in December, when it fell five votes short of bypassing a filibuster. Lugar was one of just three Republicans to vote for the measure.

In a statement, Lugar spokesman Mark Helmke blamed Democrats for turning immigration into a partisan issue. […]

Helmke said Lugar’s staff told Democrats that the Indiana senator supported the initiative, but he wanted them to work on getting more Republican support. Lugar’s spokesman claims that not only did Democrats not do that, but they set up a press conference to announce the reintroduction of the DREAM Act before the Lugar had made his final decision not to cosponsor. Democrats, however, said that it was clear for months that Indiana Republican wasn’t going to cosponsor the bill at this time.

Here are three versions of the DREAM Act from the past several years — S.729 (111th Congress), S.774 (110th Congress), S.2075 (109th Congress). CLick on those and then check the co-sponsors to see the Republican support dwindle over the years to just Lugar in the 111th. Nothing has changed about this bill over the years, and the undocumented immigration issue has only become more problematic. When Bush was in office, the DREAM Act had 8 Republican co-sponsors one session (the 109th) and 5 the next (the 110th). With Obama in office Republican co-sponsorship immediately jumped down to 1 in the 111th, and now, as the election approaches, zero. To the Republicans, this is clearly about politics, not immigration policy. See also: the Republicans’ sudden backing away from debt limit increases as soon as Obama came into office.

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Comments

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pjlatombo 11/10/2011 5:12am

I appreciate your speculation as it attracts people’s attention and make this topic discussable. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. cure for thrush

Naame 05/17/2011 9:42am

“My only other comment would be to reaffirm MYAKUS’s point. The Democrats had the power to pass any bill they wanted in 2009 and 2010. Blaming partisan politics on the GOP now is not a valid argument.”

This is argument has been echoed a lot, but it is simply false. The fact is that during Obama’s first 2 years in office both the House and Senate were packed full of Blue Dog Dems whose voting record sided with Republicans on larger issues far more than they sided with Dems. Even when their voting records did match, they usually opposed their own party for the majority of the debate which resulted in heavily watering down legislation.

At some point one must accept that they are not a “Conservative Democrat”. They are a moderate fiscal Republican.

jstuck21677 05/13/2011 2:35pm

lol. It’s awful, but I do giggle every time I hear his name. :)

jstuck21677 05/13/2011 2:34pm

Thank you for the correction.

However, I still stick to my position. I’m not here to argue, only to provide a point of information for a fair and balanced discussion.

It is completely illegitimate to use this case as an example of Republicans blocking the President’s agenda.

Of the 8 Republicans supporting the bill in the 109th, 4 of them (Chafee, Coleman, DeWine and Hagel) were out of office in the 111th. You can’t use their non-votes as an example of opposition to the Administration.

Of the other 4 votes, I pointed out the positions of Crapo, McCain and Lugar above. Furthermore, Susan Collins did not co-sponsor the bill in the 110th Congress when Bush was President. Her lack of co-sponsorship in the 111th can’t be an example of partisanship during the Obama Administration.

My only other comment would be to reaffirm MYAKUS’s point. The Democrats had the power to pass any bill they wanted in 2009 and 2010. Blaming partisan politics on the GOP now is not a valid argument.

donnyshaw 05/13/2011 12:33pm

OpenCongress Staff

My bad. I got the 111th/109th backwards. Fixed it now, so you should be able to see all the GOP co-sponsors in the 109th.

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myakus 05/13/2011 12:06pm

Could another explanation of the “Republicans backing away from debt limit increases” have something to do with yearly deficits running 1.4 Trillion dollars with no end in sight? Maybe turning the “stimulus” into baselined expenditures also had something to do with it.

Could President Obama have driven Republican cooperation away with partisan demagoguery in El Paso?

The Obama administration had two years of super-majorities and did nothing. Now he wants to blame Republicans?

jstuck21677 05/13/2011 12:03pm

Please provide more information. You claim 8 GOP co-sponsors in the 109th. I have been up and down the list and can only find Lugar. Who were the other 7 GOP co-sponsors?

Also, your claim that GOP support has dwindled as an opposition to the President, is (from my perception) not fact:

In the 110th, Senators Lugar, McCain, Crapo, Craig and Hagel supported the bill. You are right that only Lugar supported the 111th version; however, Crapo and Hagel were no longer in office during the 111th. You can’t expect them to co-sponsor a bill when they are not in Congress.

Sen. McCain has made it clear that he is willing to consider DREAM once the border is secure; but there has been little to no cooperation on the border issue.

Finally, Sen. Crapo has made it clear he wants a broader discussion on the issue. He refused to force it through in a lame duck session.

You claim the GOP is playing politics, but the Democrats are those whom introduced it before even Lugar could get on board.

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