Heller says he is for Nevada first, not Trump or party | RecordCourier.com
Geoff Dornan
gdornan@nevadaappeal.com

Back to: Local

Heller says he is for Nevada first, not Trump or party

Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., promised a joint session of the Nevada Legislature on Monday that he will oppose the Trump administration when he believes their policies are bad for Nevada.

Heller pointed to two areas where he said he strongly opposes the President's proposals: restarting the Yucca Mountain project and "gutting" the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act.

Trump's budget includes $120 million to resume the process of licensing the dump 75 miles north of Las Vegas.

"Let me be clear," he told lawmakers. "Yucca Mountain is dead. Nevada will not be our nation's nuclear waste dump."

He said in the past, Democratic Sen. Harry Reid was the powerful opponent of the dump project, but with his retirement, Heller said, "Now I'm standing between this administration and Yucca Mountain. I will lead this fight."

The lands act has since 1999 allowed the sale of federal lands in Clark County to permit the expansion of Las Vegas and surrounding communities for economic development. The proceeds from those sales have pumped millions into environmental and other projects in places such as the Tahoe Basin.

Heller said the Trump administration wants to dismantle that act, "And I'm not happy."

Heller also said it's time for Congress to seriously address the major issues it faces including reform of the Affordable Care Act.

He blamed the gridlock on Congress.

"The status quo is unacceptable," Heller, of Carson City said.

He called for a debate "on what we can agree on and how to move forward."

"That debate doesn't come in 30 second sound bites and that debate doesn't come in the form of a Tweet," he said.

He said Congress needs to protect coverage for those currently receiving ACA healthcare benefits including the 200,000 newly eligible in Nevada covered by Medicaid.

He made similar statements about the immigration issue saying it's time to sit down and figure out what to do. He pointed out that he was one of just 14 Republican Senators to vote for comprehensive immigration reform three years ago.

"We need to have a much broader and larger conversation about our immigration policies," he said.

He said he is hopeful the Trump administration and congress are serious about tax reform.

Our current tax code is too costly. Our current tax code is too complex," he said.

"He said the tax system needs a broader base and to close loopholes to "let individuals keep more of their hard earned tax dollars here in Nevada."

"My number one focus is the people of Nevada," he said. "That transcends party lines. When President Trump is right for Nevada, I will support him but when he wrong for Nevada, I will oppose. I'll always put Nevada first."

Heller's address to the Nevada Legislature will be followed by Rep. Dina Titus Tuesday and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto on Thursday.