Democratic Senator Sides with Republicans, Gets Praised by Conservative Group

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The Koch-backed conservative group Americans for Prosperity praised a Democratic senator in a vulnerable seat Friday for voting with Republicans on the repeal of financial regulations.

North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, who may face a tough reelection fight in November in a state where President Donald Trump has a 53 percent approval rating, earned the group’s praise for “giving Main Street relief.”

Americans for Prosperity “is committed to working with lawmakers — regardless of party — to advance common sense reforms that help people improve their lives,” Tim Phillips, a spokesman for the organization, told CNBC.

“At the same time, we will continue to hold members who voted against this crucial reform accountable.”

“While we don’t agree with Sen. Heitkamp on everything, particularly her vote against tax relief, we commend her for taking a stand against the leaders of her party to do the right thing.

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“We hope to find common ground and work with Sen. Heitkamp on other issues moving forward including making tax relief permanent,” Phillips said.

Heitkamp cosponsored recent deregulatory legislation, signed by Trump May 24, that lessened the sting of the Dodd-Frank Act on smaller banks.

She was the only Democrat invited to the signing, even though 16 other members of her party voted to pass the bill.

“There were two people there who really delivered that bill: [Senate Banking Committee Chairman] Mike Crapo and myself,” Heitkamp said.

“It’s really a question of who was there that had nothing to do with it.”

All this spells trouble for North Dakota Rep. Kevin Cramer, the Republican nominee for the Senate race.

Heitkamp has a slight lead in polling from February, but her closeness with the administration appears to be troubling the congressman gunning for her seat.

“He’s frustrated they are sweet-talking Heitkamp for her votes,” a Republican insider told the Washington Examiner.

While tax reform passed despite Heitkamp’s opposition, the Senator’s willingness to work with the Republicans on other issues may be necessary in upcoming cabinet nominations.

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Heitkamp also sits on the Senate Committee on Agriculture, which needs to pass a farm policy bill this year that Democrats could obstruct.

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