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The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

January 13, 2014 at 1:28 PM

Dream Act passes House in rare first-day vote; Senate action unlikely

OLYMPIA — The state House overwhelmingly passed the so-called Washington Dream Act on Monday, kickstarting the 60-day legislative session with a rare opening-day floor vote.

But state Senate leaders signaled the bill is unlikely to move in that chamber.

The proposal, House Bill 1817, would allow access to financial aid for aspiring state college students who were illegally brought to the United States as children.

It passed 71-23, with some Republicans joining with majority Democrats, who have made the bill a top priority.

“This bill is not about ‘those children,’” said state Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos, D-Seattle, in a supporting speech. “This bill is about our children.”

But some Republicans argued the bill did not make sense because more than 30,000 students applied for financial aid last year and didn’t get it.

“The statistics unfortunately trump the dream at this point,” said Rep. Larry Haler, of Richland.

The bill could pass on the first day of the session because it went through committee and floor action last year (also with huge support).

Melinda McCrady, a spokeswoman for the House Democratic Caucus, said “nobody here can remember” the last floor vote on the opening day of the session.

Majority Leader Pat Sullivan called the bill “unfinished business” and noted the early passage would give the Senate time to consider it.

But in an interview, the Senate majority leader indicated that may not happen.

Asked about the Dream Act and the Reproductive Parity Act, another Democrat-priority bill, Rodney Tom said his caucus intends to stick to jobs, education and the budget.

Tom is one of two Democrats caucusing with Republicans to form a majority group in the Senate.

Comments | More in State Legislature | Topics: Financial aid, immigration, tuition


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