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August 1, 2014

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Six takeaways from a rare joint TV interview with Nevada Sens. Harry Reid, Dean Heller

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KSNV-TV

U.S. Sens. Dean Heller, left, and Harry Reid appear on the KSNV-TV show “What’s Your Point?” on Friday, April 18, 2014. The two Nevadans are shown in a screen shot from a video of the show.

Bundy Family Hosts Patriot Party

Rancher Cliven Bundy greets supporters during a Bundy family Launch slideshow »

Nevada Sens. Harry Reid and Dean Heller don’t agree on everything. But the Democrat and Republican did agree to sit together for a rare live TV interview Friday on KSNV-TV.

Reid, the majority leader, and Heller talked about the Bureau of Land Management’s battle with Clark County rancher Cliven Bundy, the stalled bill to extend unemployment insurance and the smoking habits of a congressional peer. The senators are in town during a congressional recess for spring break.

Here are six takeaways from the 30-minute political debate show "What’s Your Point?" on Channel 3.

1. Reid thinks Bundy supporters are "domestic terrorists." Heller thinks they’re "patriots."

Hundreds of armed militia members converged on Bundy's ranch from across the country to defend his family against federal agents.

Reid: "If there were ever an example of people who were domestic violent terrorist wannabes, these were the guys. I think we should call it that way."

Heller: "What Senator Reid may call domestic terrorists, I call patriots. We have a very different …"

Reid interrupted: "I said these people think they’re patriots, they’re not. ... If they’re patriots, we’re in trouble."

Heller: "That’s a pretty broad brush when you have Boy Scouts there, you have veterans at the event, you have grandparents at the event. These are people, as long as they’re not promoting violence, in my opinion …"

Reid: "Promoting violence? Sniper rifles. Talk to Sheriff (Doug) Gillespie. Automatic weapons. That’s grandmothers? That’s Boy Scouts? I hope not, because we’ve got more problems with Boy Scouts than if they can have gay leaders."

Heller: "I take more issues with the BLM coming in with a paramilitary army of individuals with snipers. I’m talking to people and groups that are there at the event. Your own government with sniper lenses on you. It made a lot of people very uncomfortable."

2. Reid thinks the next steps with Bundy may be the creation of a law enforcement task force. Heller thinks there should be congressional hearings on the BLM’s overbearing force.

Reid: "It’s obvious that you can’t just walk away from this. … But I don’t think it’s going to be tomorrow that something’s going to happen. But something will happen. … We’re a nation of laws, not a nation of men and women."

Future Uncertain in Bundy-BLM Dispute

Cliven Bundy, right, talks with militia-type volunteers at the family ranch near Bunkerville Sunday, April 13, 2014. Volunteers include Scott Woods, left, of West Virginia, Christian Yingling, center, of Pennsylvania, and Jay LeDuc, background right, of Payson, Ariz. Launch slideshow »

Heller: "I would hope that the two of us together … can agree to have hearings back in Washington, D.C. I want to talk about the fact that the federal government owns 85 percent of Nevada. That’s where the beginning of all this happens. I want to talk about the fact that they have this kind of authority and the ability to bully and to come in with 200 armed men into a situation like this. I would like to have hearings. I want to find out who’s accountable for this. I hope someone in the BLM feels some accountability for exactly what happened. I fear there will be no answer to that question. But I want hearings in Washington, D.C., on exactly what happened and who gave the orders to march in like that."

3. Heller supports a bill in the Nevada Legislature to study a potential state takeover of federal land. Reid, not so much.

Reid: "This land is public land. That’s the way it is. For people to talk about, we’ve been through the Sagebrush Rebellion, that’s as worthless as a pregnant high jumper. That didn’t work then. It’s not going to work now. It’s federal land."

4. Reid, Heller disagree on what causes wildfires: Climate change or a drop in cattle grazing

Heller: "Cattleman have lost half, in the last 30 years, over half the range land that they’re able to run their cattle on."

Reid: "That’s because of climate change. We have wildfires that have decimated cowboy land."

Heller: "But I would argue that’s the reason why we have these wildfires. Because we no longer allow sheep and cattle to graze on these properties."

Reid: "Dean, I think it would be a tough thing scientifically for anyone to say that the reason we have climate change taking place is because we don’t graze cattle enough."

5. Heller still lobbying on unemployment benefits bill.

Click to enlarge photo

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill on Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013, after a closed-door strategy session.

Heller, the bill’s co-sponsor, said he’s still working with House Republicans to bring the bill to a vote. Nevada in March had the nation’s second-highest unemployment rate at 8.5 percent. Heller’s staff has been meeting with the staff of House Speaker John Boehner. Heller said he hoped for a meeting with Boehner himself before the Congressional spring break but that didn’t happen.

6. House Speaker John Boehner smokes. A lot.

Reid: "I don’t want him smoking in my office. So every meeting we’ve had has been in his office. He smokes a cigarette about every 10 minutes. I’m glad he’s able to smoke. It keeps him pacified."

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