Today, President Obama met with Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) members, chairwoman Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) and Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) to discuss movement of the DREAM Act. In a lead up to the meeting, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced plans earlier this week to bring the DREAM Act to a vote, attaching the measure to the Defense Authorization bill to be voted on next week. While GOP opposition to this bipartisan immigration amendment remains high, President Obama pledged his support at an event last night, despite previous concerns that passing the DREAM Act will detract from a larger immigration overhaul.
Participants in today’s White House meeting relayed that the President pledged his full commitment to help move the DREAM Act. According to Politico44:
After meeting with President Obama, Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.) told reporters that she urged him to work with the Senate to pass the DREAM Act on immigration.
“The president committed to talk to senators,” she said. “We will encourage the community at large to help us, because next week is going to be a crucial week.” Echoing Obama, she called for an “up or down vote.”
Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) added that Obama made it clear that he would “leave no stone unturned.” He said they asked Obama to use the “full weight, the full might of the White House.”
“Let’s have a victory next week,” Gutierrez said.
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) advocated for the defense authorization bill, in which the DREAM Act is contained. “I trust that Republicans will join us,” he said, noting that the issue has been bipartisan in the past. “A clean vote without amendments to it.”
At a CHC gala last night, President Obama attempted to quell frustrations over the lack of movement on immigration reform by vowing that he “will not walk away from this fight” and that he remains committed to “getting this done as soon as we can.” Most notably, however, the President lifted up the DREAM Act amendment in his speech—notable, that is, given his previous concerns that passing only part of an immigration reform bill (DREAM) will detract from the momentum of a larger overhaul effort. In his remarks, President Obama said:
Now, the Senate is going to have a chance to do the right thing over the next few weeks when Senator Reid brings the DREAM Act to the floor. Keep in mind, in the past, this was a bill that was supported by a majority of Democrats and Republicans. There’s no reason why it shouldn’t receive that same kind of bipartisan support today. I’ve been a supporter since I was in the Senate, and I will do whatever it takes to support the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’ efforts to pass this bill so that I can sign it into law on behalf of students seeking a college education and those who wish to serve in our country’s uniform. It’s the right thing to do. We should get it done.
Although the President has pledged his support for the DREAM Act, mounting GOP opposition will make it increasingly difficult for Sen. Harry Reid to find the 60 votes necessary for cloture on the amendment next week, assuming the Defense Authorization bill makes it through round one, the motion to proceed, next Tuesday.