If Speaker Ryan does not call a vote on the DREAM Act (H.R. 3440) as a standalone bill, which would pass with bipartisan support, then he has two ways to approach the pending funding vote. First, he can choose to coalesce his Republican colleagues, including the extreme factions, and enact a hardline budget that drastically cuts funding for essential programs, all while attempting to increase funding for the unpopular border wall. With this, the Speaker would appease a small group of lawmakers at the expense – literally – of most Americans, which is a huge risk that would place Republicans in a difficult position heading into an election year.
Or, the second and more likely scenario: Speaker Ryan can choose to keep the government open by presenting a workable budget that Democrats could support, which must include a clean version of the DREAM Act. Such a spending package would reflect broad, bipartisan American values, not just the narrow interests of extremist Republicans.
The DREAM Act could be a unifying force between Republicans and Democrats in what has otherwise proven to be a polarizing political environment.