Weather Forecast


Hoeven votes ‘yes,’ Heitkamp ‘no’ on tax overhaul

Senators John Hoeven and Heidi Heitkamp listen to Drayton resident and business owner Pete Anderson voice concerns of flood insurance costs being a burden on the elderly and business owners during Thursday's public form, February 23, 2017 in Drayton, N.D. (Jesse Trelstad/Grand Forks Herald)

BISMARCK - North Dakota’s senators split their votes early Saturday, Dec. 3, on the Republican overhaul of the tax code.

Sen. John Hoeven sided with almost all of his fellow Republicans to pass the bill in a 51-49 vote. The bill still needs to be reconciled with a House version that passed a couple of weeks ago before heading to President Donald Trump’s desk.

Hoeven said the bill boosts the standard deduction, which most North Dakotans use, and maintains a state and local property tax deduction of up to $10,000.

“The Senate took an important step to provide hardworking, middle-class Americans with tax relief that will enable them to keep more of their paycheck and at the same time lower rates for small businesses, including our farmers and ranchers, so we can grow our economy and create more jobs with higher wages,” Hoeven said in a statement.

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat facing reelection next year in a conservative state, said the bill is “bad for North Dakota,” arguing that it favors wealthy people at the expense of the middle class. The Joint Committee on Taxation, meanwhile, has said that even after accounting for economic growth, the bill would add more than $1 trillion to the debt over a decade.  

Heitkamp cited an analysis from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy that said North Dakota would, as a whole, pay $9.9 million more in taxes under the Senate proposal. 

“I wanted to be able to support a responsible, permanent tax reform bill that stands up for workers, families, and retirees while staying fiscally responsible. I wanted to help write it,” Heitkamp said in a statement. “But this bill gives large corporations a permanent tax cut, while the tax cuts for working families expire in a few years.”

National Republican Senate Committee spokesman Michael McAdams criticized Heitkamp’s vote.

“North Dakotans won’t forget that when Heidi Heitkamp had the opportunity to put more money in their pockets, she folded to the demands of her party bosses in Washington,” he said in a statement.

Editor's note: This story was updated on December 9th. 

John Hageman

John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.  

(701) 255-5607