Mitch McConnell spokesman: Stopping the DREAM Act isn’t a top priority for us; Update: McConnell spokesman emphatically denies
posted at 2:20 pm on November 23, 2010 by Allahpundit
Via Mickey Kaus, who’s been insisting for months to the amusement of his critics that, yes indeed, Democrats might pursue big-ticket liberal legislation in the lame-duck session and that the DREAM Act could be the particular ticket they have in mind. His tweet this morning upon stumbling over the new Daily Caller piece: “WAKE UP?”
Republicans are ramping up their opposition to the legislation,
noting that simply by applying for the Dream Act’s program, illegal aliens could be given a hiatus from the law for as long as six years. They also note the bill will grant illegal aliens eligibility for in-state tuition and the right to sponsor their parents and extended family for legalization…
An aide to a moderate GOP senator said Democrats haven’t made any serious attempts to discuss the bill with the other side of the aisle. There is “no real organized effort that I am aware of,” the source said, “generally this is seen for what it is — a political, not policy driven endeavor.”…
Potentially offering hope to the legislation’s advocates, Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, said Republicans aren’t making it their top priority to kill the bill.
“I don’t have a whip count on it…Our priority is making sure no one gets a tax hike and funding the government while reducing spending,” Stewart said.
Sounds scary, but the Caller’s own whip count does a nifty job in lowering the alarm. The only senator to confirm he’s voting with the other party thus far is Democrat Ben Nelson, who’ll join the GOP in opposition. Lindsey Graham’s also a no, as (in all likelihood) is incoming Republican Mark Kirk, so Reid will start three votes short of the 60 he needs for cloture. Beyond that, there are a bunch of centrist Dems who voted no on DREAM in 2007; several of them — Conrad, McCaskill, Tester — are up in 2012 and thus have every political incentive to repeat their vote this time. Manchin and Jim Webb are up in 2012 too and will face red or reddening electorates, and on the GOP side, we already know all about the primary threat to Olympia Snowe and Orrin Hatch. Even George LeMieux, who’ll be replaced by Rubio come January but is thinking of challenging Bill Nelson in 2012, may feel safe in opposing DREAM in order to avoid being primaried and in light of the fact that Rubio did well with Latino voters despite his own qualified anti-amnesty positions. (Of course, Rubio may have had ethnic support from Cuban voters that LeMieux can’t count on.) All of which is to say, Reid’s likely six to eight votes in the hole before Republican defectors even factor into the equation. Even if he flips LeMieux and McCain and one or two others (Murkowski, Collins), how does he get to 60?
That’s probably why McConnell isn’t scrambling to defeat this. Why bother whipping the caucus when he knows the righty base will whip them for him? Speaking of which, if you want to put in a little phone time, you’re probably better off leaning on nervous Dems than on Republicans, since Democrats will be hearing it from the other side. Here are the numbers for the fencesitters.
Update: Ah, much ado about nothing on LeMieux. The boss emeritus has already confirmed that he’s voting no, as is Hutchison.
Update: Don Stewart, the McConnell spokesman cited in the Daily Caller piece, reached out to Ed to say that people have misunderstood. It’s not that stopping DREAM isn’t a priority, it’s that he was simply drawing a contrast between the GOP’s focus on economic relief and the Democrats’ preoccupation with ancillary “liberal wish list” items like DADT and DREAM. He points specifically to this passage from McConnell’s recent weekly address:
“Americans don’t think we should be raising taxes on anybody, especially in the middle of a recession. But instead of giving Americans what they want, Democratic leaders plan to use the last few days that lawmakers expect to spend in Washington this year focusing on everything except preventing this tax hike, which will cost us even more jobs:
“…Immigration…A repeal of the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ …A reorganization of the FDA … More environmental regulations…
“Democrats put off all these things until after the election, along with the most basic task of funding the government. By focusing on them now, and not on legislation to promote job creation and reduce spending, they’re showing where their priorities lie.”
In other words, they’re not pro-DREAM, they simply think Reid should stop wasting valuable time in the lame-duck with crappy distractions that voters don’t much care about.