Sen. Toomey hits opponent on 'sanctuary cities' ahead of vote
© Getty Images
Sen. Pat Toomey and Katie McGinty, his Democratic opponent, are trading fire ahead of a Senate vote on the Pennsylvania Republican's "sanctuary cites" legislation. 
Ted Kwong, a spokesman for Toomey's campaign, said Tuesday that McGinty supports so-called sanctuary cities that refuse to comply with federal immigration law on deportations.
"In contrast, Senator Toomey this week will continue his widely recognized leadership on fighting to keep Pennsylvanians safer from violent crime and terrorism," he said. 
McGinty on Tuesday urged "dialogue and cooperation" between Philadelphia and federal officials, saying it's "concerning" that Homeland Secretary Jeh Johnson said both sides aren't currently talking. 
"I would respectfully urge you to convene the appropriate local and federal officials together with community members to ensure that there is robust communication and partnership in ensuring that violent criminals, suspected terrorists or others who pose a threat are apprehended and prosecuted," she wrote in a letter to Philadelphia Mayor James Kenney. 
McGinty — knocking Congress for failing to pass immigration reform — added in her letter that "'sanctuary cities' are not the answer to our complex law enforcement and immigration reform problems, but reflect this needed prioritization of public safety." 
The Senate is expected to take a procedural vote this week on Toomey's legislation, which would limit grant funding to cities that don't follow federal immigration law. 
McGinty took a swing at Toomey's proposal, writing in the letter to Philadelphia's mayor that it is set up "to increase the burden on struggling municipalities even more broadly" by cracking down on the federal grants. 
But the Pennsylvania Republican, who has a tough reelection bid, faces an uphill battle to get his legislation over Wednesday's hurdle. He'll need to convince at least six Democrats to buck their party leadership if he wants to overcome the 60-vote threshold. 
Democrats blocked a broader bill last year from Sen. David VitterDavid Bruce VitterBottom line The biggest political upsets of the decade Red-state governor races put both parties on edge MORE (R-La.), who got a vote on his proposal while he was running for governor.
Regardless of the outcome, Wednesday's move gives Toomey a vote on an issue he's put at the center of his Senate bid as part of a larger fight with McGinty over law enforcement.
The two sparred over Philadelphia's immigration policy earlier this year. When Toomey was blocked from tying his immigration proposal to a broader spending bill in May, his campaign used the floor drama to knock both McGinty and Senate Democrats. 
McGinty on Tuesday accused Toomey of playing politics with his support for law enforcement in an effort to strengthen his reelection campaign. 
"The record is clear: Pat Toomey doesn't stand with Pennsylvania law enforcement until his own reelection is at risk," she said in a statement. "As the daughter of a police officer, it's disturbing to see a public official shamelessly play politics with issues that really matter to the men and women who wear the uniform."
McGinty's comments come after The Daily Beast reported that while Toomey recently urged President Obama to lift restrictions on the federal government giving military-style equipment to local police, as a House member he voted for an amendment in 2000 that would have gotten rid of the program. 
E.R. Anderson, a spokeswoman for Toomey, defended the pivot, telling The Daily Beast, "In 2000, the war on terrorism had not yet been brought to our shores. ...What was right in 2000 is not right for the challenges we face today.”
Toomey's campaign also sent out a press release Tuesday, arguing that law enforcement officials are praising Toomey's "leadership" on lifting the current restrictions, while McGinty "is being called out for ducking questions." 
Republicans are defending 24 Senate seats in November, including a handful in states previously won by President Obama. Democrats need to net four seats to win back control of the Senate if they also retain the White House, or five to regain the Senate outright.
Updated at 4:07 p.m.