The DREAM Act passed the House last night on a 216 to 198 vote, and the bill moves on Thursday morning to the Senate, where chances look dim. More than three dozen Democrats voted against the immigrant legalization bill, but only eight Republicans voted for it—and nearly all of them were either voted out of office or are retiring. Rep. Joseph Cao (R-La.), Charles Djou (R-Hawaii.), Mike Castle (R-Del.), and Bob Inglis (R-S.C.) all lost their re-election bids. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) and Vern Ehlers (R-Mich.) are retiring. The only GOP members to vote for the bill who will be in the next Congress are Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart, both from Florida.
The vote is just the latest indication of how much the GOP has shifted to the right, shrinking the ranks of moderate Republicans. Cao and Djou lost their seats to Democrats in the midterms, and Castle’s House seat was taken over by a Democrat. Inglis, Lincoln Diaz-Balart, and Ehlers all lost to right-wing tea party-backed Republicans—some of whom have even vowed to pursue a crackdown on illegal immigrants.
To be sure, there will be a few moderate Republicans in the new House, including some—like Rep.-elect Raul Labrador (R-Idaho)—who have more centrist views on immigration policy. But last night’s vote makes it clear where the most of the GOP stands on the issue. And the party will have the likes of Rep. Lamar Smith, Steve King, and immigration hawk Lou Barletta to lead the charge against illegal immigration in the next Congress.