The cast of characters in Congress will change significantly in the New Year, but for now the peeps who brought you the stimulus bill, healthcare and financial reform still have a (tiny) chance to pass a few laws during their “Lame Duck” session. This could affect issues like access to college for the children of immigrants, gay military service, and college affordability, which may impact you or your friends.
Some things to watch:
Advocates of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM Act), will argue for a “path to citizenship for tens of thousands of young, undocumented immigrants who attend college or serve in the military for at least two years,” reports DC’s go-to wonk site, Politico, noting that “critics still dismiss the proposal as ‘amnesty’ for illegal immigrants.” The measure is one possible component of comprehensive immigration reform, which many experts say is unlikely to pass under gridlocked Congressional leadership in the next two years. The DREAM Act targets young people brought to the U.S. illegally before they turn 16, provided that they’ve lived in the country for at least five years, have graduated from high school or gotten their GEDs, and have clean police records, among other stipulations.
A similar fate awaits the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, which would allow for openly gay soldiers to serve in the military. A long-awaited Pentagon report on the policy was released this morning. It concluded that gays could serve with no harm to national security, and will be an influential factor in how some congressional leaders vote on the issue.
Likewise, the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which is a refundable credit worth up to $2,500 a year for college, is set to expire this month.
Here’s a great snapshot of how things could play out. The measures have gained support with Democrats in the past, and Republicans are expected to block them.