Last night, the House passed the DREAM Act by a vote of 216-198, with 208 Democrats and 8 Republicans voting in favor. The version of the DREAM Act that passed the House, H.R. 6497, was slightly modified from the Senate version by breaking up the conditional nonimmigrant status into two five-year periods, and requiring aliens to apply for an extension of their conditional nonimmigrant status after the first five-year period has elapsed as well. The applicants would have to pay a $525 surcharge at the initial application and a $2,000 surcharge at the beginning of the second five year period. The Senate version required no surcharges.

The Senate was scheduled to vote today on the motion to proceed to its version of the DREAM Act, S. 3992, at 11 am EST. Instead, Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) first asked for unanimous consent to “vitiate,” or drop the cloture vote. When the GOP objected, Reid moved instead to table the motion to proceed. That motion passed 59-40–virtually all Democrats supported the leader on this vote–even some who may not vote for DREAM. As Senator Reid stated on the floor, his intention is to bring up the House version of DREAM which, if passed by the Senate, could go directly to the President’s desk. This avoids any need to reconcile the two versions of the bill, which is a positive for supporters of the bill, as there is precious little time remaining in the legislative session.

The momentum from the House vote and the likelihood of a Senate deal on tax cuts makes it more likely that the Senate could pass the DREAM Act next week. When the DREAM Act does come before the Senate, they should consider it with the same level of compassion, courage and recognition as the House. The moral and intellectual support for the DREAM Act is overwhelming. A financial investment in the education of young people who grew up in our communities will pay immediate dividends that we will continue to reap for decades. Senators have the opportunity to join House Members in standing on the right side of history.

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