Senate stalls on DREAM ACT

Democrats tried to push the legislation through before the Republicans take control of Congress next session.

Cali Owings

Legislation that would provide children of illegal immigrants with a path to citizenship was tabled by Senate leaders Thursday.

In order to bypass the need to reach consensus between the House and Senate, Democrats will likely try to pass a different version of the bill identical to the one that passed in the U.S. House of Representatives, according to a statement by the White House press secretary. It will likely be introduced next week. If passed, the bill would go directly to President Barack Obama to be signed into law.

The act was introduced Tuesday by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin, D-Ill., who drafted the first version of the legislation in 2001.

Under the DREAM Act, minors who immigrated to the United States illegally can become eligible for citizenship by completing at least two years of school at a four-year institution or serving two years in the military.

To be eligible, immigrants must have arrived in the U.S. before turning 16. They would have until they turn 29 to meet the requirements for citizenship.

The House passed its version of the DREAM Act on Wednesday night with a 216 to 198 vote.

In a statement released Thursday, Congressman Keith Ellison, D-Minn., said he âÄúproudlyâÄù voted in favor of the DREAM Act.

âÄúThe DREAM Act gives the innocent victims of our broken immigration system a fair shot at the American dream,âÄù he said.

The Senate also failed to receive the 60 votes necessary to move the defense bill which included a provision to repeal âÄúDonâÄôt Ask, DonâÄôt Tell.âÄù

Reid pushed the vote before securing more Republican supporters because Democrats were running out of time.

Many of the troubles stem from Republican refusal to vote on any legislation until tax cuts had been extended.

-The Associated Press contributed to this report.