This takes 60 votes, and after this step, passage in the Senate is likely. When they last tried to vote on the DREAM Act, Reid only received 56 votes with no Republicans and two Democratic defectors. However, this was right before the election and the cloture vote was not specifically over the DREAM Act (rather reopening debate on a defense bill, which he wanted to add the DREAM Act, repeal of Donâ€™t Ask Donâ€™t Tell, and a few other things on) so the situation is quite different.
Where are we now?
There are two definite Republican â€?yesâ€? votes with Richard Lugar (IN) and the thankfully primaried out Bob Bennett (UT) who wants to punish the voters on last time before he leaves.
A number of Republicans formerly voted for the DREAM Act in 2007 including John McCain (AZ), Lindsay Graham (SC), Susan Collins (ME), Olympia Snowe (ME), and Sam Brownback (KS) who was just elected governor. Graham has indicated he would vote no, and McCain is unlikely to flip flop back to amnesty quite so quickly. The other three Republicans are all uncommitted as of yet.
Additional Republicans who may support amnesty include Lisa Murkowski (AK), Scott Brown (MA), and retiring George LeMieux (FL) and George Voinovich (OH.)
On the Democratic side, Ben Nelson (NE), Kent Conrad (ND), Kay Hagan (NC), Mark Pryor (AR), Joe Manchin (WV) all indicate they will vote against it, but there is a lot of pressure on them from the leadership and interest groups. Semi-restrictionist Democrats such as Mary Landrieu (LA), Claire McCaskill (MO), Byron Dorgan (ND) have not made any clear statements one way or another.
With Republican Mark Kirk (IL) who will vote was sworn in yesterday, so there are currently 58 Democrats and 42 Republicans in Congress. Simple addition tells us that for the Senate to pass the DREAM Act, the Democrats need the two Republicans they already have, plus an additional one for every single Democrat who votes no.
What is very concerning to me is that in the past, shutting down the Congressional Phone lines killed amnesty. However, Iâ€™ve barely heard any talk radio or Tea Party groups talk about the DREAM Act. The pro-amnesty groups are arranging mass phone calls to the point that people I know on the Hill are getting more pro-DREAM Act calls than vice versa.
Additionally, they have three different versions of the bill, with a little bit of window dressing to give cover to yes voters (e.g. we wonâ€™t give illegal aliens in-state tuition, which doesnâ€™t matter if they become legal.)