CQ TODAY ONLINE NEWS
Nov. 7, 2012 – 2:11 p.m.
113th Congress: Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D. (Senate)
By John Donnelly, CQ Staff
Heidi Heitkamp is most concerned about agricultural issues, with energy a close second. She’s already asked to be on the Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, where she can fight for programs such as crop insurance. She also would be interested in serving on three other committees: Energy and Natural Resources, Finance and Indian Affairs.
Heitkamp, who during the campaign split the difference between traditional Democratic positions and the rising tide of fiscal conservatism, says she wants to move beyond partisanship in order to bring down the debt and get the economy moving again — without hurting seniors or the poor, she hastens to add. For example, she favors a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced federal budget (traditionally a GOP cause). But, in a nod to the left, she wants the mandate to be able to be waived by supermajorities in Congress under certain circumstances. And she says Social Security and Medicare funding should be protected from cuts that would follow from the requirement.
Heitkamp has served as director of a company that converts coal to synthetic natural gas, so she is familiar with energy issues. She’s come down in favor of Republican positions on boosting domestic energy production, particularly in her state, and construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would run from Canada into North Dakota and then southward through the United States.
On taxes, Heitkamp again occupies the middle ground.
She is against allowing the highest earners to retain their George W. Bush-era tax reductions but wants corporate taxes to be lowered.
And she favors allowing corporations to bring foreign profits back into the country without paying taxes on them if the money is used to help create jobs.
She likes some provisions of the health care overhaul that became law in 2010, including the ban on denying coverage because of pre-existing medical conditions. But she favors jettisoning others, including the core provision requiring individuals to participate.
Heitkamp has been outspoken about the need to care for veterans. In North Dakota, she wants those who live in more rural areas to be able to receive care close to where they live rather than having to travel many miles to a facility. The state is home to Minot and Grand Forks Air Force bases.