Toomey pushes 'sanctuary cities' bill
© Getty Images

Sen. Pat Toomey is renewing a push to crackdown on cities that don't comply with federal immigration rules as the issue bleeds over into his bid for reelection. 

The Pennsylvania Republican’s legislation was fast-tracked to the Senate calendar on Tuesday. The move allows it to skip the committee process and paves the way for it to potentially be taken up — though a vote isn't currently scheduled. 


Toomey's legislation would limit federal grant funds for so-called sanctuary cities, or those that don't follow federal immigration laws. The proposal, if approved, would take effect on Oct. 1, the start of fiscal 2017.

The floor action comes as Toomey has repeatedly knocked Katie McGinty, his Democratic opponent, on the issue.

During a press conference this week in Pittsburgh, he called on McGinty to back a crack down on sanctuary cities and help increase police access to federal equipment.

Democrats blocked Toomey from tying a sanctuary cities amendment to a broader appropriations bill last month amid a fight with McGinty over Philadelphia’s policy.

Toomey also sent a letter to President Obama Tuesday asking him to reconsider restrictions rolled out last year on the use of military-style equipment by local law enforcement.

Toomey's latest push comes ahead of the the one-year anniversary of the death of Kathryn Steinle, who was shot and killed in San Francisco. The suspect in her slaying is an illegal immigrant who had been deported five times.

Republicans have used Steinle's death to try to build momentum over the immigration fight, which has largely stalled in Congress.

"The bill stands for the simple proposition that the safety of the American people matters," Toomey said Monday. "That the life of Kate Steinle matters. That protecting our own homeland from violent criminals, including terrorists, that matters." 

Toomey is in a tough reelection fight heading into November, with Republicans defending 24 Senate seats, including a handful in states previously won by President Obama. The RealClearPolitics average of polls in Pennsylvania shows Toomey leading McGinty by 5 percentage points, 44.5 to 39.5.