Senate Dems block 'sanctuary cities' bill
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Senate Democrats on Tuesday blocked legislation to crack down on cities that don't comply with federal immigration law.

Senators voted 54-45 on a measure to end debate on legislation from Sen. David VitterDavid Bruce VitterPlanned Parenthood targets judicial nominee over abortion comments Trump nominates wife of ex-Louisiana senator to be federal judge Where is due process in all the sexual harassment allegations? MORE. Sixty votes were needed to overcome the procedural hurdle and move toward a vote on the bill itself.

Two Democrats broke rank and sided with Republicans in the vote.

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The Louisiana Republican’s legislation would have limited federal grants to so-called "sanctuary cities" and increased penalties for undocumented immigrants who reenter the United States illegally after being deported.

Vitter argued that Democrats misunderstand the legislation, saying that "there are a lot of myths about our bill versus the facts."

"We have several myths versus facts as part of the record, and I urge everyone, starting with our colleagues, Democrats and Republicans, to study that carefully," he added. "This is an important issue. Sanctuary cities are a real problem, and we need to fix them."

The issue of sanctuary cities captured the political spotlight in July after the death of 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle, allegedly at the hands of an illegal immigrant who had already been deported five times.  

Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenators near deal on sexual harassment policy change Blankenship third-party bid worries Senate GOP Overnight Finance: Trump signs repeal of auto-loan policy | Justices uphold contracts that bar employee class-action suits | US, China trade war 'on hold' MORE (R-Ky.) referenced Steinle's shooting ahead of the vote, pressuring Democrats to "put compassion before left-wing ideology today."

But Democrats were intent on blocking Vitter's legislation from moving forward, suggesting that it undercut law enforcement and was an unacceptable substitute for a broader immigration reform proposal.

"Today's vote is nothing but a political show vote. Senator Vitter knows his legislation has no chance of passing the Senate or being signed into law," Sen. Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerOvernight Finance: Trump signs repeal of auto-loan policy | Justices uphold contracts that bar employee class-action suits | US, China trade war 'on hold' Free traders applaud Trump as China tariff threat recedes The Hill's 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines — Frenzy over Kennedy retirement rumors | Trump challenges DOJ MORE (D-N.Y.) said ahead of the vote.

Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidMcConnell not yet ready to change rules for Trump nominees The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by CVS Health — Trump’s love-hate relationship with the Senate Trump to press GOP on changing Senate rules MORE (D-Nev.) also derided the bill on Monday, calling it "vile" and the "Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpRed states find there’s no free pass on Medicaid changes from Trump Trump meets with Moon in crucial moment for Korea summit The Memo: Trump flirts with constitutional crisis MORE Act," after the 2016 GOP front-runner.

Even if the bill had managed to overcome Tuesday's procedural hurdle, it’s unclear if it could have maintained Republican support on final passage.

Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakePressure rising on GOP after Trump–DOJ fight’s latest turn Sarah Sanders: ‘Democrats are losing their war against women in the Trump administration’ Trump yuks it up to deflect Senate critics MORE (R-Ariz.), who has concerns about broadly applying mandatory minimum criminal sentence requirements, told The Hill earlier this month that he was hoping to amend it further on the floor. Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerKennedy retirement rumors shift into overdrive McConnell: Midterms will be 'very challenging' for GOP Singer Jason Mraz: Too much political 'combat' in Washington MORE (R-Nev.), separately, wanted to include an amendment on immigration reform.

The White House also pushed back against Vitter’s bill ahead of the vote, vowing that President Obama would veto it if it reached his desk.

“The administration believes that these provisions would lead to mistrust between communities and State and local law enforcement,” the Office of Management and Budget said in a statement.

But supporters of Vitter’s bill say that, despite Tuesday’s failed vote, the Senate’s debate on sanctuary cities isn’t over.

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSenators near deal on sexual harassment policy change Senate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA Five Republican run-offs to watch in Texas MORE, who is running for president and backs Vitter’s legislation, urged Republican leadership to attach the measure to a “must-pass” bill if Democrats blocked the stand-alone proposal.

“I salute leadership for bringing up this vote, but if a party-line vote blocks it, then the next step is not simply to have a vote. The next step is to attach this legislation to must-pass legislation and to actually fix the problem,” the Texas Republican said