U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp served as the first female senator elected from North Dakota from 2013-2019.
Senator Heitkamp grew up in a large family in the small town of Mantador, North Dakota. Alongside her six brothers and sisters, she learned the value of hard work and responsibility, leading her to choose a life of public service.
During her six years in the U.S. Senate, Senator Heitkamp quickly became a proven senator who worked across the aisle to fight for North Dakotans. Senator Heitkamp personally showed that if senators work together, it can lead to real solutions. She also came to work every day fighting for rural America and made sure others in the Senate understood the needs of rural communities.
Former Republican Senator Bob Corker called Senator Heitkamp "stronger than battery acid." Democratic Senator Jon Tester said "she has been incredibly effective" in the Senate.
Senator Heitkamp courageously voted against Justice Brett Kavanaugh to serve on the Supreme Court after hearing testimony from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Kavanuagh's response testimony. Following the vote, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said Senator Heitkamp had, "become a bit of a feminist icon."
Throughout her time in public service, Senator Heitkamp has stood up for tribal communities and worked to improve outcomes for Native American children, women, and families. The first bill she introduced in the Senate, which became law in 2016, created a Commission on Native Children. Her bill with former Senator John McCain became law to create Amber Alerts in Indian Country. She introduced Savanna's Act to help address the crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women. And she worked to help address the detrimental impact exposure to trauma can have on children and families – particularly those in Native communities.
Senator Heitkamp also worked to combat human trafficking in North Dakota, across the country, and around the world. She helped write legislation, which was signed into law, to crack down on human trafficking online, which led to the closure of Backpage.com.
A strong advocate for working families, Senator Heitkamp has fought to support North Dakotans throughout their lives. She helped introduce legislation to create a federal paid family and medical leave policy. She led the effort to get the Export-Import Bank up and running to boost American manufacturing and support American workers and businesses. She strongly backed legislation to prevent discrimination in the workplace against LGBTQ individuals. And she fought for retirement security for families and seniors by working to solve the pension crisis facing many retirees.
Senator Heitkamp has pushed to make health care more affordable and accessible. She fought back against efforts to repeal the health reform law and tried to make the law work better for families and businesses. She halted attempts to slash Medicaid and Medicare or privatize Social Security. She voted against the Republican tax bill and has called for a fairer tax system that doesn't drastically increase the nation's debt and deficit.
As a former director of the one-of-a-kind Dakota Gasification synfuels plant,Senator Heitkamp has a long record with energy development in North Dakota. She continued those efforts in the Senate, working to responsibly harness North Dakota's energy resources, and successfully pushed to lift the 40-year old ban on exporting U.S. crude oil while expanding support for renewable energies, like wind and solar energy development.
Senator Heitkamp sat on the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, where she fought for North Dakota's farmers, ranchers, and rural communities to make sure they got the resources and support they need to continue to feed North Dakota, the country, and the world. She helped write, negotiate, and pass two long-term, comprehensive Farm Bills which Congress passed.
Through her leadership on the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, Senator Heitkamp pushed to reform the nation's housing finance system, make housing more affordable, and provide relief to small financial institutions.
On the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Senator Heitkamp pushed to provide training and resources for first responders to keep North Dakota's communities strong and safe, improve mail delivery and service in rural communities, help recruit and retain a strong federal workforce, and cut red tape to make the federal government more efficient and effective for North Dakota families and small businesses.
Senator Heitkamp previously served as North Dakota's Attorney General, battling drug dealers, protecting senior citizens from scams, and working to keep sexual predators off streets and away from kids, even after their prison terms were up.
As North Dakota's Attorney General, Senator Heitkamp brokered an agreement between 46 states and the tobacco industry, which forced the tobacco industry to tell the truth about smoking and health. The settlement resulted in the award of about $527.5 million to North Dakota taxpayers to date. It was one of the largest civil settlements in U.S. history. When very little of this funding was being spent on anti-tobacco programs as intended, Senator Heitkamp led a successful ballot initiative in 2008 that mandated significant increases.
Previously, Senator Heitkamp served as North Dakota's Tax Commissioner. Under her tenure, the State of North Dakota attempted to make catalog retailers collect the sales tax the state and municipalities were already owed on sales. The debate went all the way to the Supreme Court in the case Quill v. North Dakota. Two and a half decades later, in 2018, the Supreme Court overturned the 1992 ruling siding with Senator Heitkamp's arguments, and finally leveling the playing field for brick-and-mortar businesses.
Senator Heitkamp received a B.A. from the University of North Dakota and a law degree from Lewis and Clark Law School.She lives in Mandan, North Dakota with her husband, Dr. Darwin Lange, a family practitioner. They have two children, Ali and Nathan.