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October 25, 2014

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Finally! House joins Senate in voting to reopen government

Nevada leaders divided on measure; Heller calls it a ‘step backward’

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., gestures during a news conference with, from left, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., after passing a bill to raise the debt ceiling and fund the government on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013 in Washington.

Updated Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013 | 7:58 p.m.

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Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev. talks to the media after his victory at the Palazzo in Las Vegas after midnight on Wednesday, November 7, 2012.

Budget Battle Day 16

Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., walks to his office after arriving on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013 in Washington. Launch slideshow »

Congress has passed the compromise deal to end the federal government shutdown and raise the debt limit less than two hours before a Thursday deadline — but Nevada’s delegation was largely divided over the measure.

Nevada’s senators and House members split largely along party lines during two late Wednesday night votes, with Democrats supporting the compromise funding and debt measure Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had struck with Republican Senate leaders, and two of three Republicans rejecting it.

Only Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., broke with his party to back the bill, despite pushing Democrats for weeks to make concessions that did not end up in the final compromise.

“I am deeply disappointed this legislation did not include spending reforms to address this administration’s spending addiction,” Heck said, adding that “the health care law must be repealed, repaired and replaced.”

“But not at the expense of a prolonged government shutdown,” Heck continued. “This bipartisan bill paves the way for us to reopen the government and address our long-term spending and debt issues.”

Other Nevada Republicans decided against similarly opting for the deal that became the middle ground.

“This proposal is a step backward, not forward,” Sen. Dean Heller tweeted before the vote.

“Nothing in this legislation changes the real threats to our country’s economy,” Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., said in a statement after the House vote. “It saddens me to see such important matters decided by the political box score instead of what really matters — getting the policy right for the people who are impacted, which in the case of our economy, federal spend and debt, and health care, is all Americans.”

The deal passed the Senate by a vote of 81 to 18.

The House then passed the deal by a vote of 285 to 144.

The measure ends a multiweek standoff between Democrats and Republicans over extending the federal budget into fiscal 2014 and raising the debt limit before the country’s borrowing authority expires. The Treasury Department has said that the country will start defaulting on its debts on Oct. 17.

Reid negotiated a last-minute deal with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell that would achieve the two main objectives without making major changes to Obamacare or imposing deeper spending cuts on a budget that has already been reduced by the across-the-board sequester that kicked in earlier this year.

“We’ve been able to come together for a lot of different reasons,” Reid said, crediting McConnell and Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., for crossing the party line and starting crisis-ending discussions with Democrats last weekend.

“My caucus has been lock-strong together,” Reid added. “We’ve been a real team ... I’m really grateful for them.”

No Senate Democrats broke rank during tonight’s vote, or during the previous two weeks of government shutdown, even as they were getting considerable pressure from Republicans to make concessions on health care in exchange for refunding the government and avoiding default.

Republicans had sought to defund Obamacare, at least partially, as part of the deal.

The breakdown between Reid and Republicans Heller and Amodei does not come as a surprise. Heller has voted against major compromises in the past involving raising the debt ceiling and limiting spending through the “sequester” mechanism currently squeezing government spending across the board.

Heller had told the Sun Tuesday that he wouldn’t seek to filibuster progress on the deal, which was certain to pass the Senate. He was one of 16 Republican senators to vote against a preliminary procedural on the legislation, which secured 83 votes.

While Amodei was not in Congress the last time that lawmakers voted on a similarly large measure involving the debt ceiling and federal budget, he nonetheless has been comfortable being a lone no vote before, as he was during the vote to avert the fiscal cliff on New Year’s Day.

Nevada Democrats criticized Republicans for their demonstrated lack of cooperation as they celebrated the end of a fiscal standoff they argue never had to happen.

“Congress has wasted weeks sidestepping a disaster of its own creation,” said Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., in a statement. “America teetered on the brink because House Republicans held the well-being of the country hostage for the sake of ideology.”

“Americans are fed up with the political obstructionism and dysfunction that shut down our government and brought us to the brink of default,” Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., said in a statement, also pointing a finger at Republicans. “This bill is not perfect, but it ends the harmful brinksmanship that held our government hostage for three weeks.”

Titus and Horsford both voted in favor of the debt and budget bill.

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