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DREAM Act Gets Its First Hearing Ever

June 29, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

The DREAM Act, a bill that would give citizenship status to some undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children, received its first ever Senate committee hearing yesterday. The bill has been stalled in Congress since 2001. Yesterday's hearing indicates that Democrats, with support from the White House, are launching a major effort to rally support around this ahead of the 2012 elections.

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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. Sen. Richard Lugar [R, IN], the only Republican to co-sponsor the bill last year, will not be returning as a co-sponsor this year.

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With the new session of Congress quickly approaching, here's a look back at the most-opposed bills of the previous session that are likely to be introduced again next year. These are the bills with the most "no" votes among OpenCongress users, as tracked by our Battle Royale, that didn't become law in the past session. It's by no means a complete picture of political sentiments across the country, but it gives us a unique view into what specific proposals from Congress have gotten people concerned and engaged over the past two years.

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The Senate has a busy afternoon ahead of them. After they finish their morning impeachment trial of a federal judge, they'll move on to a series cloture votes on some fairly significant domestic policy bills that have been kicking around the Senate for the past several years. As a reminder, cloture is a procedural motion to defeat opposition to debating a bill, and it takes 60 votes to pass. It's basically a vote on preemptively defeating a threatened filibuster.

Today's votes are the Democrats' last chance to move these bills past the Republicans before they lose a handful of seats to them in the next session and finding 60 votes on this stuff becomes all but impossible. Let's have a look at what's on the schedule:

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Congress comes back to work today for the first time since the midterms for what is known as a "lame duck" session, a post-election work period with defeated incumbents still in office, but unaccountable, and newly-elected members waiting in the wings. Lame duck sessions have historically been relatively unproductive, but there is a lot that could happen this time and there's a certain unpredictability to lame duck sessions that make it extra important that we pay close attention. Here's a quick look at what Congress might take up in the lame duck.

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Reid Promises a Lame-Duck Vote on the DREAM Act

October 31, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

What's actually going to happen in the lame duck session of Congress is still pretty much a mystery. But if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's [D, NV] word is worth anything, we now know for sure at least one bill that will get a vote, and -- no surprise here -- it's one with strong appeal to the Latino voters in Nevada Reid is counting on to help him defeat challenger Sharron Angle on Tuesday.

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"Don't Ask Don't Tell" Repeal Hits a Wall in the Senate

September 21, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

As expected, the motion in the Senate to begin debate of the 2011 Defense bill, which contains a provision repealing "Don't Ask Don't Tell" and would be the vehicle for a possible DREAM Act amendment, was rejected this afternoon, 56-43. Sixty votes were needed to approve the motion.

Arkansas' two senators, Democrats Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor, joined every Republican in voting it down. Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid [D, NV] technically voted "no" as well, but only in order to preserve his right under Senate rules to bring the motion to a vote again at some point in the future.

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DADT, DREAM, and Midterm Politics

September 21, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

So, moderate Republicans Snowe, Collins (pictured at right) and Brown are all going to vote no today on the motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to the Defense Bill. That means no chance to vote on the DREAM Act and no chance for enacting a "Don't Ask Don't Tell" repeal.

While some Republicans are certainly being hypocritical in their sudden purity about amendment germaneness and open debates, but the Democrats are also being a little disingenuous here. Majority Leader Harry Reid [D, NV] has set particularly stringent limits on how long the pre-midterms Defense bill debate can be and what amendments can be voted on because he wants to leave D.C. as soon as possible to get into full-time campaigning. If he allowed the Defense bill debate to cut a week off of the campaign season, it's likely that there would be enough support in the Senate today to move forward with the bill and, hence, with DADT and the DREAM Act.

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The Week Ahead

September 20, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

I know a lot of you out there are waiting on the Senate to take up legislation extending unemployment insurance to 99ers and other exhaustees, but it looks like this week will instead be used to hold a couple politically-charged votes on a bill that Majority Leader Harry Reid [D, NV] doesn't even plan on finishing until after the November midterms. "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and the immigration-related DREAM Act are scheduled for debate and votes this week as amendments to the 2011 Defense AUthorization Act, which Reid said on Thursday most likely won't be completed until the lame-duck session.

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Reid Schedules DREAM Act Vote

September 15, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Congress enacted a stand-alone border security bill this summer. Now they're going to vote on a bill from the opposite side of the "comprehensive immigration reform" universe -- the DREAM Act -- that would create a path to citizenship for some undocumented immigrnts that serve in the military or earn a college degree.

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