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April 26, 2015

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Nevada’s Dean Heller provides key to debt ceiling deal

Dean Heller

Dean Heller

For the first time in a year and a half, House Republicans and Senate Democrats have reached a relatively painless accord on how to avoid hitting the national debt ceiling — with the key to the compromise coming from Nevada Sen. Dean Heller.

The House voted Wednesday to approve a three-month suspension of the congressionally set limit to the president’s borrowing authority, along with a direction to lawmakers to pass a 2014 budget by the regular, procedural order or risk losing their pay.

That caveat has come to be known in Washington as “No Budget, No Pay.” It is the brainchild of Heller, who first introduced the concept in July 2011 as a bill directed at forcing the Senate to pass budgets by regular order starting in 2013.

Heller’s been stumping for legislation ever since, advocating for its adoption before the Senate Government Affairs Committee with the help of the nonpartisan group No Labels.

But the bill still hadn’t picked up much hard support — it secured only three official co-sponsors during the last Congress — until House Republicans decided to make it their latest bargaining chip with the Senate late last week.

“I’m comfortable with their short-term fix,” Heller said Wednesday, noting that while he would rather see the No Budget, No Pay standard become a permanent practice in Congress, he was happy to see it applied to fiscal 2014.

“Our goal is the long term,” Heller said. The House bill “is close enough as far as I’m concerned...I think it’s moving in the right direction.”

Sen. Harry Reid said Wednesday that he planned to bring up the House-passed debt ceiling bill for a vote in the Senate without making any changes, all but guaranteeing that it will be ready for President Barack Obama to sign into law in the next few days.

“We believe strongly that this is a way forward,” Reid said.

The annual salary for rank-and-file members of the House and Senate is $174,000. As party leader, Reid makes $193,400 a year. (House Speaker John Boehner has the highest annual lawmaker salary, at $223,500.)

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  1. Interesting publicity stunt, but otherwise meaningless. The Twenty-seventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads:

    "No law, varying the compensation for the services of Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened."

    But then, Heller is a Republican't - a party whose members have a LOOONNGG history of preaching strict adherence to the Constitution. . . except when it interferes with their own pet schemes. Or does he actually want to cut pay only for those members who happen to still be in office in 2015?

  2. Given that Harry Reid steals money from so many hard workers in America and does not tell them how he spends their hard earned money (sounds like lot of it goes to lavish parties and vacations).....

    we have lots of disapproval for the idiotic Reid
    and thank Heller for trying to push the idiotic Reid to finally do a budget.

    Every single American deserves to know what the Senate is spending our money on - its not Reid's money; its your and my money

    Itw just too bad that Reid gets reelected when he deserves only a swift kick in the rear to do his job. Thanks Heller - keep kicking the old mule..

    and those who do not support this action....
    do not realize how much Obama and his gang of thugs lie to us about the money...

    Its time to pass the budget Reid...and
    tell us what you've done to destroy America with yoru worthless programs we do not want.

  3. This isn't a key to the deal. Heller's contribution is a gimmick; netting the GOP nothing.

    "Every single American deserves to know what the Senate is spending our money on - its not Reid's money; its your and my money"

    What the Senate spends our money on is easily found in appropriations bills, which dictate where the money goes. The text of these are easily found online at

    The budget gimmick is a wishlist, nothing more. The Senate budget would have to pass the House to take effect... and even then it's not-binding. Hopefully you know what that means, lovestohike.

    Great job hitching your grand plan to one of Heller's irrelevant gimmicks, GOP!

  4. "That is relevant don't you think?"

    What part of "non-binding" don't you understand, Chuck?

  5. ksand99

    You do not understand the constitution,
    There is a legal requirement for Harry Reid, the worst thief in government, to pass a yearly budget.

    Reid needs to start working for a change - I guess he loves Searchlight so much he refuses to work with anyone who lives more than 50 feet away from it,

    Its time for gimmicky Reid - who refuses to do his job, and who makes up so many lies on an ongoing basis, to do his darn job.

    But Obama, who wastes our money, does not make him act responsibly.

    Reid stinks and those you call Heller Gimmicky are just plain idiots - someone who hates kids, seniors, and those who spend money wisely.

    Of course, Reid does not know how to spend money wisely - he just wastes it and has sold our soul to China. Shameful to those who support reid and his thuggish actions.

  6. lovestohike, you're woefully misinformed. Please cite the relevant clause of the Constitution which demands the Senate pass a budget every year.

    Hint, hint: take a look at Article 1, Clause 9; that's as close of a "requirement" that's found and it is actually calling for appropriations bills (as I cited) and regular publishing of what was spent (which I also cited).

    The legal requirement, if that's what you want to call it, is found not in the Constitution, but in congressional resolutions. It's more like a request than a law, as there's no legal penalty nor punishment for not adhering to it.

    I'm just chuckling that you think this will make any difference whatsoever. The House already passed a budget (thanks for killing Romney's chances with the Paul Ryan budget!) and the Senate will pass a budget. Both budgets will die, and we'll revert to what we've been doing for years now... spending via the Constitutionally-mandated appropriations process.

    The only thing less relevant than Heller's gimmick is your sad attempt to defend it.

    Yet again, pick up a dictionary and figure out what "non-binding" means.

  7. Lets connect two DOTS. Politicians want to get beyond the tax-refund season to avoid interference by constituents when finally DEALING with excessive spending. Next dot: sequestration includes "defense" cuts so GOPers will be willing to negotiate BUT Dems have to get with it--we need MATERIAL CUTS to spending on everything except SS and Medicare. Granted Medicare especially needs Congressional intervention and FUNDING fraud avoidance programs--benefit fraud via identity theft. And of course, reforms to end-of-life care costing 25% of all Medicare but little to no chance of improving quality of life for the terminally ill and comatose.

  8. Kevin and company: The way this budget requirement is going we're likely to see a budget passed by the House but no meaningful action by the Senate. And since (or is it used to be?) money matters must start in the House..... (I refer to past tense since the Senate has been initiating all sorts of spending--like Super Storm Sandy "relief.")

  9. Read the US Constitution. Not only is the Senate not required to submit a full budget, it is actually prohibited from doing so.

  10. rr: Step ONE: The PRESIDENT submits a budget proposal--something the Democratic Senators don't laugh at would be nice.

  11. Roslenda,

    "And of course, reforms to end-of-life care costing 25% of all Medicare but little to no chance of improving quality of life for the terminally ill and comatose."

    Could you give more details about the "end-of-life care" you are referring to, including at what point "end-of-life care is determined to go into effect?

    Are you supporting legalized state determined euthanasia in order to reduce costs of care for the terminally ill and comatose?

  12. peace lilly--suggest you search for 60 minutes programs among others. I refer to end-of-life every-possible-medical intervention when someone over 85 with terminal anything is resuscitated time and time again although remaining comatose after they restart the organs and tie him/her up to every form of mechanical life support. 25% is expert "estimates" of how much Medicare is wasted. No one suggested euthanasia. No one suggested withholding pain meds. No one suggested withholding medical care with a reasonable chance of improving quality of life.

  13. peacelilly: I grew up Catholic and do NOT support any form of euthanasia. However, I have lived long enough to see so much pain in individuals that I also support our right to chose medically-assisted suicide--support your right to it but do not advocate for it.

  14. Roslenda,

    Not long ago there was an uproar from the right about paying physicians to have a discussion with their patients about end-of-life care. This was falsely called the "Death Panels". So erroneous! Unless the doctor is paid for his time for sensitive discussions with patients and family, it is unlikely EOL counseling will be done.

    This was advanced planning that would deal with the very issue you brought up.

    There are Do Not Resuscitate orders that can be specified by anyone including under what circumstances, if they know about them.

    How many people know that our local ambulance services and paramedics must resuscitate, unless there is a special DNR related to them. This is before one arrives at the hospital. Then, the Advanced Directives and Healthcare Power of Attorney takes over once the arrive at the hospital.

    Many of those who are 85 now didn't grow up with the End-of-Life planning concept so I can understand why that might be a problem now.

    There are many now who can't bring themselves to face the realities that exist and ignore the planning.

    Another part of EOL is Hospice. Usually one has 6 months or less of life expectancy to avail themselves of that care. It is comfort care. Another aspect of that is that a patient or Healthcare POA can specify what they want done in Hospice.

    If people would be responsible about their EOL planning, there might be less people in situations like you described.

    When there is no plan in place, the medical community must resuscitate and do all necessary for a patient. They cannot kill them, or deny them life-saving care. This especially effects those who are no longer competent to give a legal DNR order.

    I also support a persons right to choose voluntary euthanasia, which is what medically assisted suicide is.

  15. Roslenda,

    By the way, hospitals have Ethics Committees who deal with cases that have no EOL plans and who are in a state they cannot recover from and are unable to live independent of machines.

    They deal with issues related to stopping life support. Sometimes they intervene with families who are in dispute over a decision to stop life support.

    The family, hospital or physicians can request their evaluation and recommendations.