Senate Dems block 'sanctuary cities' bill
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Senate Democrats on Wednesday blocked a bill that would crack down on cities that don't comply with federal immigration law. 

Senators voted 53-44 on the bill from Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.). Sixty votes were needed to overcome the procedural hurdle and formally start debate on the measure, which would limit federal grant money for so-called "sanctuary cities."

Senate Democrats also blocked legislation from Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzCruz urges Supreme Court to take up Pennsylvania election challenge OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump administration proceeds with rollback of bird protections despite objections | Trump banking proposal on fossil fuels sparks backlash from libertarians | EU 2019 greenhouse gas emissions down 24 percent Trump's NATO ambassador pledges 'seamless' transition to Biden administration MORE (R-Texas) that would increase penalties for some illegal immigrants who reenter the country after being deported.

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Toomey stressed ahead of the vote that his proposal has bipartisan support across the country, and said it would be indefensible to not allow the Senate to at least debate it. 

"This to me is just common sense. It's not principally about immigration. It is almost entirely about security and keeping dangerous people off our streets," he said. 

But he faced an uphill battle to get the six Democrats on his side to move the legislation forward. A broader bill from Sen. David VitterDavid Bruce VitterBottom line Lysol, Charmin keep new consumer brand group lobbyist busy during pandemic Bottom line MORE (R-La.) was blocked last year, and top Democrats argued Wednesday's move amounted to a redo vote. 

Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidFeinstein departure from top post sets stage for Judiciary fight Whitehouse says Democratic caucus will decide future of Judiciary Committee Bottom line MORE (D-Nev.) slammed Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHillicon Valley: GOP chairman says defense bill leaves out Section 230 repeal | Senate panel advances FCC nominee | Krebs says threats to election officials 'undermining democracy' On The Money: Funding bill hits snag as shutdown deadline looms | Pelosi, Schumer endorse 8 billion plan as basis for stimulus talks | Poll: Most Americans support raising taxes on those making at least 0K Nearly one-third of US adults expect to lose employment income: Census Bureau MORE (R-Ky.) for teeing up the votes, saying GOP lawmakers want "red meat going into their convention." 

"Senate Republicans today will promote Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpFederal watchdog accuses VOA parent company of wrongdoing under Trump appointee Lawsuit alleges 200K Georgia voters were wrongly purged from registration list Ivanka Trump gives deposition in lawsuit alleging misuse of inauguration funds MORE's anti-immigrant rhetoric with action. ... These bills follow Trump's lead in demonizing and criminalizing immigrant latino families," Reid said from the Senate floor. 

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Senate Republicans are scheduled to meet with Trump at the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) on Thursday. Trump has gotten pushback from Democrats, and some Republicans, over his immigration comments. 

 But McConnell defended Toomey and Cruz's measures, arguing their legislation could have prevented the death of 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle. Steinle was killed in San Francisco just roughly a year ago, allegedly by an illegal immigrant who had already been deported five times.  

Toomey's legislation, while unsuccessful in the Senate, will give the Pennsylvania Republican a new talking point on "sanctuary cities" and law enforcement in his reelection bid. 

He and Katie McGinty, his Democratic opponent, sparred over the issue ahead of Wednesday's vote. Knocking McGinty, Toomey's campaign said the GOP senator will "continue his widely recognized leadership on fighting to keep Pennsylvanians safer from violent crime and terrorism."

Ted Kwong, a spokesman for Toomey's campaign, said the vote "showed a stark contrast between Senator Toomey's leadership on stopping dangerous sanctuary cities and Katie McGinty's meaningless calls for more 'dialogue,'"

McGinty fired back Wednesday, saying Toomey's legislation would "directly and blatantly" harm Pennsylvanians.

"We all agree that violent criminals, whether documented or undocumented, need to be apprehended. But the way to ensure that is done is to stand up for law enforcement and fund key programs so that enough resources are available for available for public safety," she added.

On Tuesday, she sent a letter to Philadelphia Mayor James Kenney urging "dialogue and cooperation" between local and federal officials. 

Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinFunding bill hits snag as shutdown deadline looms Criminal justice groups offer support for Durbin amid fight for Judiciary spot The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - GOP angst in Georgia; confirmation fight looms MORE (D-Ill.), pointing to Toomey's reelection bid, accused Republicans of playing politics with Wednesday's vote. 

"Why are we bringing it back today? Well, there's been some candor on the Republican said," Durbin said ahead of the vote. "The senator who is offering this measure is up to for reelection." 

But House GOP lawmakers urged the Senate to pass the bills ahead of the vote.

"Congress has an obligation to protect Americans from dangerous criminals,” Rep. Vern Buchanan said. “These two bills ensure we prioritize public safety and will prohibit taxpayer dollars to locations that provide safe harbor to illegal immigrants."

— Updated 4:39 p.m.