Comment: DREAM Procedure - To the best of our understanding, here is the procedure currently being followed for DREAM. There will be a cloture vote on S. 3455, the DoD Authorization Act on Tuesday, the 21st of September. If the Majority Party succeeds in invoking cloture, S. 729, the DREAM bill, will be offered as an amendment. Sen. McCain, among others, has objected strongly to this procedure, since the Minority Party has not so far been permitted to offer its amendments to the underlying bill, while the Majority Party has not only scheduled a vote on DREAM, but also on “Don't Ask Don't Tell”, and other election-time amendments. It is possible that the two parties will compromise on the procedure, and that a more convoluted process might thus result (including permitting another DREAM amendment with fewer benefits instead of S. 729). Compromise or no, given the strong disagreements on display on the Senate floor in the 111th Congress, several cloture votes are likely before the bill clears the Senate. Even should the Majority Party prevail through all of this, it must be borne in mind that the travails of DREAM would have just begun. That's because the Senate is not considering H.R. 5822, the House version of the bill, and because these are appropriations bills, the House cannot, even if it wanted to, acquiesce in S. 3455 (as amended). Instead, the action will then move to conference. This spells great peril for DREAM, here's why. Once conference is sought on DoD Appropriations, the conference committee may not issue its final report until after the election, and the vote on the conference report may happen in a lame duck session. Furthermore, the conference committee may well choose to strip DREAM from the final report. The excuse that would undoubtedly be then given is that there are insufficient votes on the House floor for DREAM. If the Democrats have by then lost their majority for the 112th House in November, the excuse might even be true. This is because, should the Democrats insist on DREAM's inclusion at that time, the by-then-newly-emboldened Republicans may be in no room for compromise, and may offer only to agree to a continuing resolution to tide matters over until the 112th Congress convenes, and may repeatedly filibuster the lame duck session's business. If the Republicans have just received a fresh mandate from the people, it may be foolish for the Democrats to resist the Republicans too much at that stage. All of the foregoing procedure (incorporating policy) is just Politics 101 inside the Beltway, now for the Machiavellian touch. It is possible that the Democratic leadership is deliberately setting DREAM up for failure, either on a cloture vote, or through a stab-in-the-back in conference. There are three advantages to the Democratic leadership in such Machiavellian maneuvering: (a) the Democratic leadership gets to posture as pro-immigrant just prior to the election, thus providing the flimsy substance for the propaganda that their concern for immigrants' issues extends beyond votes for Democrats (b) should the Univision viewership be skeptical in buying the claim that the Democrats are the immigrants' friends, the Democratic leadership gets a second bite at the apple by repeatedly using video clips of Republicans denouncing DREAM on the Senate floor (this has already begun, Republican Senators Hatch and Bennett of Utah, previous DREAM supporters, now oppose DREAM) in ads on Spanish language TV stations in the build-up to November – the strategy here being that the enemy of your enemy is your friend, the conclusion hammered to immigrants being: vote Democratic (c) even should DREAM survive a cloture vote now, the Democratic leadership gets to conveniently kill DREAM just after the election, thus keeping a large, million-strong constituency hungry and angry, ready to serve as Democratic pawns in the next election in 2012.
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