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Procedural vote on DREAM Act fails in Senate

By the CNN Wire Staff
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DREAM act fails to move forward
  • NEW: Obama calls failure "incredibly disappointing"
  • The measure fell five votes short of 60 needed to be considered for final passage
  • The bill would offer a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who entered the U.S. as children
  • The measure passed in the House this month

Washington (CNN) -- A bill that offers a path to citizenship to some illegal immigrants who entered the United States as children failed a procedural vote in the Senate on Saturday.

Known formally as the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, the DREAM Act fell five votes short of the 60 needed to be considered for final passage.

The measure passed in the House earlier this month by a vote of 216-198.

In a statement released shortly after the vote, President Obama called it "an incredibly disappointing vote."

"A minority of senators prevented the Senate from doing what most Americans understand is best for the country. There was simply no reason not to pass this important legislation," Obama said in a statement. "It is disappointing that common sense did not prevail today."

The president vowed to continue to fight for the legislation, which would offer legal standing to immigrants who entered the United States illegally as children under the age of 16 and have lived in the country for at least five years.

Other requirements include graduating from high school or obtaining a General Education Development diploma and demonstrating "good moral character."

Even then, only a six-year conditional status would be awarded. Before moving to the next phase, the students would need to meet additional requirements -- attending college or serving in the military for at least two years, and passing criminal background checks.

Proponents, such as Obama and Democratic leaders, say the bill would give legal standing to young people brought to the United States who have bettered themselves and served their new country.

Democratic senators lined up Saturday to excoriate their Republican colleagues and assure Latino supporters they won't give up on the legislation. Several made reference to busloads of Texas students who drove all night from Austin to witness the vote.

"America is a country where dreams are made, not crushed. And today dreams were crushed," U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-California) said. "My message to these young people is 'never fear,' we're not going anywhere. We're going to continue to fight because this is the right thing to do."

Republicans, such as Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, called the measure an amnesty on Saturday before the vote to invoke cloture -- which would end or limit debate.

"If we pass this amnesty, we will signal to the world that we're not serious about the enforcement of our laws or our borders," Sessions said. "It will say, you make plans -- you can make plans to bring in your brother, your sister, your cousin, your nephew, your friend, into the country illegally as a teenager, and there will be no principled reason in the future for the next congress then sitting to not pass another "dream" act. And it will only be a matter of time before that next group illegally here will make the same heartfelt pleas that we hear today."

Republicans who voted to advance the bill were Sens. Bob Bennett of Utah, Richard Lugar of Indiana and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Democrats against it included Max Baucus and Jon Tester of Montana, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, and Mark Pryor of Arkansas.