North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp – who won a narrow election victory in 2012 with a campaign that was, in part, based on opposition to filibusters – voted for another filibuster today. This time it was legislation introduced by Senator David Vitter of Louisiana aimed at so-called “sanctuary” communities which do not cooperate with the federal government when it comes to detaining and deporting illegal immigrants.
As the National Journal reports, “The bill would have blocked some funding to cities and jurisdictions that refused to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and would have increased penalties for illegal immigrants with felonies caught crossing the border multiple times.”
Two Democrats often described as moderates – Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Senator Joe Donnelly of Indiana – voted with Republicans on the bill, but Heitkamp joined the rest of the Democrat caucus in the Senate to vote for a filibuster. One Republican – Senator Kirk of Illinois – voted for the filibuster. Senator John Hoeven, obviously then, voted to advance the legislation.
[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp – who won a narrow election victory in 2012 with a campaign that was, in part, based on opposition to filibusters – voted for another filibuster today.[/mks_pullquote]
This is an interesting vote for Heitkamp.
For one thing, there’s the now well-established hypocrisy on filibusters. When Heitkamp was campaigning she pledged to gut the filibuster. Acting as a member of the majority, she did vote to gut the filibuster for judicial confirmation votes. But that was all back when Democrats were the majority party in the Senate. Now that they’re in the minority, Heitkamp has suddenly found a taste for filibusters.
Which is fine by me. I like the filibuster. But it certainly makes Heitkamp’s previous opposition look calculated and partisan and not at all like the “independent” she campaigned as.
For another, there’s the fact that backing sanctuary cities is probably not something that’s going to sit well with most North Dakotans. Say what you want about immigration – and, frankly, most conservatives would probably describe my position as “open borders” – but federal law is what it is. Sanctuary communities are actively defying federal law that is squarely in the federal government’s jurisdiction.
You’d think we’d want to take action against sanctuary communities for the sake of the rule of law, if nothing else.
On a related note, can you imagine Heitkamp taking these votes if she were still planning to run for Governor? She announced earlier this year that she’s not running. Maybe seeing these tough votes on the Senate agenda is what dissuaded her.