The Senate's top Democrats sought to reassure supporters on Thursday that a key immigration bill wasn't dead this year.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said they would move later in December to pass a version of the DREAM Act that had been passed by the House on Wednesday night, ending speculation that lawmakers wouldn't act to pass the immigration bill at all this year.
"[T]he Senate will move to the House-passed version of the bill later this month," the pair said Thursday in a statement. "In the meantime, we will work with House leaders and the Administration to ensure that the DREAM Act will be law by the end of the year."
The pair's statement came after the Senate voted on Thursday morning to set aside its own version of the legislation, fueling speculation that the Senate might not act on the bill at all for the remainder of the lame-duck Congress, which would have effectively killed the bill.
The House passed the DREAM Act, which provides a pathway to citizenship under certain conditions for immigrants who had been brought to the U.S. illegally as children, in a 216-198 vote on Wednesday night.
The legislation faces many more hurdles in the Senate, where many Republicans and some centrist Democrats have threatened to vote down the measure.
Reid and Durbin said the measure was much more than a "symbolic vote" that lawmakers sometime take.
"The DREAM Act is not a symbolic vote. We owe it to the young men and women whose lives will be affected by this bill, and to the country which needs their service in the military and their skills in building our economy, to honestly address this issue," they said. "Members on both sides of the aisle need to ask themselves if we can afford to say to these talented young men and women there is no place in America for you.”