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July 23, 2014

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Politics:

Heller, Heck not onboard with Congress’ budget deal

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J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid speaks to Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., right, on Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013, as lawmakers come and go from the Senate after a bipartisan budget compromise cleared a procedural hurdle, advancing past a filibuster threshold on a 67-33 vote that ensures the measure will pass the Democratic-led chamber no later than Wednesday and head to the White House to be signed into law.

Congress is poised to pass a budget that will avoid the threat of another government shutdown for almost two years, but not all of the Nevada delegation will be onboard.

Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., voted against a procedural motion to move to the compromise budget Tuesday, and has told leaders not to count on his support during the final vote today.

“While I applaud the efforts of Rep. (Paul) Ryan and Sen. (Patty) Murray, yet again, Congress has been handed another short-term deal that does absolutely nothing to tackle our long-term debt or place our nation on sound fiscal footing,” Heller said in a statement last week.

Though the two-year deal is far from a grand bargain and steers clear of demanding punishing spending cuts in the name of deficit reduction, it has been roundly praised for being the first fiscal deal in years to have secured bipartisan support without first drawing political blood.

“The budget agreement is not perfect,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has repeated since the deal was struck.

That is certainly the case for Nevada. The budget did not include an extension of emergency unemployment benefits, guaranteeing that thousands of Nevada’s long-term unemployed will find their eligibility for government assistance has expired in the new year. Most of the Nevada delegation had insisted that benefits be extended into 2014.

But Heller and Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., both cited the budget’s shortchanging of veterans benefits as their chief reason for voting against the measure.

Nevada’s Democrats and Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., support the budget.

“This agreement is not perfect, but it is a small step forward in preventing another manufactured government shutdown,” Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., reasoned.

“It’s not a comprehensive budget by any means,” said Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev. “We have to do the job we can do and that is support this bipartisan budget act in 2013.”

“There are those who would sacrifice the good on the altar of the perfect,” Amodei said. “While this budget agreement is not perfect, it is most definitely not the status quo. And that can be counted as a victory for all Americans.”

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