Heidi Heitkamp Protects Funding for Sanctuary Cities With Filibuster Vote


North Dakota Senator elect Heidi Heitkamp (right) reacts to seeing her sister Thomasine Heitkamp at a rally Thursday, Nov. 8, 2012 in Grand Forks, N.D. The two sisters hadn't seen each other since Heidi had won election to the U.S. Senate.JOHN STENNES

In the Senate today there was a vote on the Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act, legislation introduced by Senator Pat Toomey, a Republican from Pennsylvania.

If passed the legislation would have stopped “a sanctuary jurisdiction from receiving grants under certain Economic Development Assistance Programs and the Community Development Block Grant Program,” per the description at the link. A “sanctuary jurisdiction” is defined as “state or political subdivision that complies with a detainer is deemed to be an agent of the Department of Homeland Security and is authorized to take actions to comply with the detainer.”

In other words, it would have been a cut in federal funds for cities or states which refuse to cooperate with the federal government in identifying and detaining illegal immigrants.

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]…this isn’t the first time Senator Heitkamp has filibustered legislation to cut federal funds for sanctuary cities.[/mks_pullquote]

The legislation got a majority in a cloture vote, but not the 60-vote super majority needed to advance. Thus it was filibustered, and remember when Senator Heitkamp said she was against that sort of thing?

She voted for the filibuster of Toomey’s bill, but back when she was campaigning for the Senate she pledged to support legislation opposing the filibuster. During her first year in the Senate, when Democrats held a majority, Heitkamp also voted to eliminate the filibuster for judicial nominees, voting with her fellow Democrats to bypass the 67-vote requirement for changing the Senate rules and making the change with a simple majority vote.

To be clear, I support to filibuster. I like that the sort of national policy which passes out of the Senate chamber must muster something more than a simple majority to pass. But Heitkamp campaigned, in part, on opposing filibusters.  On her still-active campaign website Heitkamp said there are “too many extreme politicians in Washington” who hold the country  “hostage to advance their narrow political agenda.”

I guess things change when you find yourself in the minority party.

By the way, this isn’t the first time Senator Heitkamp has filibustered legislation to cut federal funds for sanctuary cities. She cast a similar vote in October of last year, something the Grand Forks Herald editorial board described as “misguided.”

On a related note, Senator Heitkamp did vote with Republicans on “Kate’s Law” which would have increased the criminal penalties for illegal immigrants who re-enter the country “after being denied admission, excluded, deported, or removed.” The legislation was named after Kate Steinle, a woman who was killed in San Francisco, allegedly by an illegal immigrant with a criminal record who had been deported and re-entered the country multiple times.