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A DREAM Act vote is coming, but when?

Student protesters at a DREAM Act
Student protesters at a DREAM Act "die-in" in downtown Los Angeles, November 17, 2010
Photo courtesy of Cyndi Bendezu

Speculation that the U.S. House of Representatives might take up the DREAM Act early this week - even as early as today, as some outlets had reported - turned out to be a bit premature.

The earliest date now being discussed for a possible House vote on the Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors (DREAM) Act is this coming Thursday, said Frank Sharry, executive director of the Washington, D.C. immigration advocacy group America's Voice, which has been following the proposed legislation closely.

It's also likely that a House vote could take longer, Sharry said in a phone interview today. A blurb two weeks ago on CapitolWirePR cited New York Democratic Rep. Nydia Velasquez as saying that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had announced a tentative vote date of Nov. 29.

That date was a misquote, Sharry said. However, the hope of advocates is still that the House will vote on the measure first, he said, as this could help pave the way for success in the Senate. While there still no set date for a Senate vote, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has promised to take up the measure in the lame duck session. The DREAM Act would provide access to legal status for qualifying young people who attend college or enlist in the military.

Earlier this year, Reid attached the measure to a defense spending fill that failed to win enough votes in September. Shortly afterward, the DREAM Act was re-introduced as a stand-alone bill.

Meanwhile, as the 111th Congress enters its final few weeks, the DREAM Act is competing with last-minute legislation for attention from lawmakers. Politico reported today that these critical bills include "a resolution to keep the government funded, an extension of Bush-era tax cuts and the ratification of a new nuclear-weapons treaty with Russia."

The promise of an upcoming vote has spurred a series of rallies, sit-ins and other events around the country in recent weeks.