Bill to Stop Arizona Suit Defeated

Two Republicans broke from their party Wednesday night and voted against an amendment to stop the Justice Department from pursuing their lawsuit against Arizona’s immigration law.

Senators Mike Johanns of Nebraska and George Voinovich of Ohio were the only two Republicans to vote against the amendment sponsored by Senators Jim DeMint (R.-S.C.) and David Vitter (R.-La.). The measure was defeated on a 43-55 vote.

Johanns told HUMAN EVENTS he supports the right of our cities and states to take good faith action to protect their citizens and staunchly advocates stemming the tide of illegal immigration.

“But I could not support this congressional overreach,” said Johanns. “I am concerned with the precedent this could set for congressional intervention in Justice Department decision making. For instance, if in the future the Justice Department sues a sanctuary city for flouting immigration laws, what’s to stop Congress from defunding that lawsuit based on this precedent?”

On the opposite end of the isle, Senators Max Baucus and John Tester of Montana; Mark Pryor and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas; and Ben Nelson of Nebraska voted for the amendment. Co-sponsor Vitter did not vote.

Johanns recently introduced his own legislation that would require “the federal government to reimburse a city, state, or municipality for any attorney fees or other court costs accrued if the Justice Department sues and the local law is upheld.”

“I think this approach strikes the right balance between ensuring responsible behavior by the federal government and respecting the balance of power between Congress and the executive branch,” said Johanns.