Will Lugar Kill the Democratic DREAM?


The DREAM Act never stood much of a chance in this lame-duck Congress. Now things look even worse: The bill’s staunchest champions are wavering, and the DREAM Act looks like it’s in the dustbin even before it’s hit the floor. Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.)—a co-sponsor of many iterations of the DREAM Act—had for months been the lone Republican who’s vowed to support the bill, which would provide a pathway to legalization for young immigrants. Lugar’s support gave Democrats hope that other moderate Republicans might come on board, and his position helped convince outgoing Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) to pledge support. But Politico reports that even Lugar is now reconsidering:

Support from Indiana Sen. Dick Lugar, who co-sponsored a version of the bill as recently as September, is now uncertain, with his spokesman saying the senator “doesn’t like the political games being played” and is exploring his options.

Sound familiar? It’s the same rationale that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) gave for dropping out of the climate-change negotiations with Democrats in the spring, when partisan polarization had reached a new high after the passage of health-care reform. Having once fashioned himself as a party-bucking maverick, Graham has largely refused to cross party lines to work with the Democrats since. In recent months, Lugar has stepped into that role, leaving liberals hopeful that Democrats might still have a GOP ally. If Lugar abandons DREAM, it will certainly dampen those hopes. And it could make even incremental reform on immigration far more difficult if DREAM fails with more “no” votes than ever before.

That being said, Lugar could also be trying to perform political triage, saving up his capital to make a big push for the new START treaty, which has a significantly better chance of passing than the DREAM Act. The Republican was bullish about START’s passage on Sunday, but the treaty still needs more GOP support before it can pass. Lugar might not be willing to stir up the enmity of his Republican colleagues by defying his party on a separate bill that looks bound to fail anyway.

OUR NEW CORRUPTION PROJECT

The more we thought about how MoJo's journalism can have the most impact heading into the 2020 election, the more we realized that so many of today's stories come down to corruption: democracy and the rule of law being undermined by the wealthy and powerful for their own gain.

So we're launching a new Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption. We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We'll publish what we find as a major series in the summer of 2020, including a special issue of our magazine, a dedicated online portal, and video and podcast series so it doesn't get lost in the daily deluge of breaking news.

It's unlike anything we've done before and we've got seed funding to get started, but we're asking readers to help crowdfund this new beat with an additional $500,000 so we can go even bigger. You can read why we're taking this approach and what we want to accomplish in "Corruption Isn't Just Another Scandal. It's the Rot Beneath All of Them," and if you like how it sounds, please help fund it with a tax-deductible donation today.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate