The Obama administration seems intent on ruining Senator Heidi Heitkamp’s political career.
Heitkamp’s vote in favor of the Iran deal earlier this year – which she cast before announcing that she wouldn’t be running for governor in 2016 – wasn’t a good one for North Dakota economically speaking. In addition to the national security concerns, there’s the fact that Iran’s economic sanctions will likely be lifted soon leaving that country’s state-owned oil industry free to sell into a global market that America’s oil industry is prohibited from entering. That means more oil on the global markets, driving down prices, while American oil remains boxed up in the domestic market.
But the thinking in the state’s political circles was that Heitkamp must have struck some kind of a deal behind the scenes with the Obama administration. She’d help grease the skids in the Senate for the Iran deal, casting a pivotal but politically inconvenient vote for it, the administration would help ease the pain of low oil prices for the oil industry by lifting the export ban. In fact, I’m told that Heitkamp was actually telling oil industry leaders that there was no question the oil export ban was going to be lifted.
Yet the Obama administration has explicitly announced opposition to lifting the export ban on two separate occasions. Once was two weeks ago, shortly after the Iran deal vote, which had to feel like a knife in the back for Heitkamp. Since then Heitkamp has made noises about getting the export ban lifted by tying it to green energy subsidies, but again today the Obama administration announced their opposition to Heitkamp’s bill specifically.
WASHINGTON, Sept 30 (Reuters) – The White House does not support Senate legislation to lift the 40-year-old ban on oil exports despite a provision allowing the president to halt exports if he deemed them not in the interests of national security, a spokesman said on Wednesday.
“The administration does not support efforts to move this bill,” White House spokesman Frank Benenati said.
The Senate banking committee is slated to vote on Thursday on a bill sponsored by Senator Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat from the oil-producing state of North Dakota, to lift the ban on crude exports. It contains a provision giving the president the power to shut down exports.
One of the keys to Heitkamp’s narrow election victory in 2012 was getting voters to buy into the idea that she would govern to the right of her national party. And foundation upon which that notion was built was Heitkamp’s solid record on fossil fuels policy which is extreme importance to the state’s economy.
But now Heitkamp is being made to look ineffective. She doesn’t seem to have any clout at all with her fellow Democrats, including the one in the White House, to get compromises on policies that are good for North Dakota.
Not even when she casts votes with her party that are hugely unpopular with her constituents.
You have to think this will make North Dakota voters wonder why they should bother sending Heitkamp to the Senate again.