Washington (CNN) - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday he will add the DREAM Act, a controversial immigration measure, to a defense policy bill the Senate will take up next week.
The decision means the defense bill, which often passes with bipartisan support, will be home to two major, thorny political issues – the other being the repeal of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.
Reid called the DREAM Act "really important" and said it should be passed because it provides a path to citizenship for young illegal immigrants who go to college or serve in the military. DREAM is an acronym for Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act.
"I know we can't do comprehensive immigration reform," Reid said at a news conference. "But those Republicans we had in the last Congress have left us."
Many Hispanic voters are angry with Democratic leaders for not doing more to pass an immigration overhaul. The decision by Reid to add the DREAM Act now could help soothe that anger.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell called Reid's decision "needlessly controversial."
The Senate will need 60 votes to take up the bill next week, and Reid said Tuesday he doesn't know if he has enough votes.