Never surrender: House GOP launches next curb on sanctuary cities

We already know that President Biden has begun the process of throwing open America’s borders and not pestering the “clients” of ICE or the Border Patrol, causing worries that they might be deported. We can safely assume that he’ll be fully supportive of the sanctuary cities that have long sought to thwart the work of immigration officials, right? Probably, but there is one group of GOP lawmakers in the House who are coming back like Rocky Balboa and won’t let a little thing like losing the White House slow them down. Montana freshman Congressman Matt Rosendale is the lead sponsor of a new bill and, if passed into law, it would end the tax-exempt status of bonds issued by these sanctuary cities. Does it have a chance of being passed into law? Hey… they’re not going to let a little thing like that hold them back. (Fox News)

The bill would change the Internal Revenue Code to remove the tax exempt status for bonds issued by any sanctuary city or state. The lead sponsor, freshman Rep. Matt Rosendale, R-Mont., told Fox News that he saw the “monumental problems” being caused by the sanctuary policies, which limit local cooperation with federal immigration enforcement.

“And I was just trying to think how in the world can we address this in such a fashion that we can disincentivize this activity,” he told Fox News in an interview.

The bill has 18 co-sponsors, including Reps. Andy Harris, R-Md., Chip Roy, R-Texas, Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., Ronnie Jackson, R-Texas and Doug LaMalfa, R-Calif.

A bill with 18 co-sponsors doesn’t have enough momentum to be brought up in a committee meeting (particularly when the Chair is a Democrat) to say nothing of a floor vote. But who knows? With enough lobbying, perhaps they can sign on some additional people.

Of course, the bill involves an amendment to the tax code, which means it would have to pass both chambers and then be signed by Joe Biden. Honestly, particularly given the shaky positions of some of the blue-state Republicans, I’m not sure they could even get everyone from their own party to vote for it in the House. And you know the Democrats will treat it like poison.

It’s an interesting approach, though. Rosendale is tackling the ongoing problem of lawless sanctuary cities from two angles. One is the question of how to disincentivize this sort of dangerous behavior on the part of municipal governments. Rather than dealing with years of challenges at the state and local levels via a more blunt legislative approach, a relatively simple change to the tax code could be handled considerably easier. Nobody is entitled automatically to tax-free status when issuing bonds and this sort of correction would hit the sanctuary cities in their coffers.

His other point here stems from a desire to raise a question among his Democratic colleagues. Should they uphold federal preemption or abandon the rule of law?

“My question to Democratic members is: ‘Do we uphold federal preemption or do we not?’” he said. “And if we’re going to start picking and choosing what portions of federal preemption we are going to enforce and which one we’re not, then I’m going to start making my list.”

As much as our system was founded on preserving the power of the individual states (and, to a certain extent, local and municipal governments) federal laws still preempt state and local laws when they come directly in conflict. Or at least that was the theory originally. This premise causes problems from time to time, with one of the most common examples being the passage of laws legalizing marijuana in various states while it still remains a Schedule 1 drug under federal law. The state police can’t arrest you, but the feds still can if they choose to.

The situation with sanctuary cities is basically the opposite. Rather than ignoring a federal law such as the ones criminalizing the possession of pot, these cities actively work to thwart federal immigration law by forbidding local police from honoring ICE detainers, making arrests near courthouses, and all the rest of it. You’re free to ignore federal law at the local level if you wish, but actively working to aid and abet the criminals is another question entirely.

As I said above, this very likely remains an exercise in simply making a point for the moment. But who knows what will happen in 2022 and 2024? Perhaps Rosendale’s bill can age on the shelf for a while like a fine wine and rise again at a later date.