Senator Heller will fight ‘anti-Nevada’ Yucca plan


CARSON CITY — U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., vowed to work against any proposal from the Trump administration that would hurt Nevada and spoke of the Yucca Mountain project.

Speaking to the Nevada Legislature on Monday evening, Heller called that a “reckless proposal.”

“Yucca Mountain is dead,” Heller said. “I’m standing between this administration and Yucca. And I will lead this fight.”

President Donald Trump is trying to revive the Yucca Mountain project by calling for $120 million in his proposed budget to restart the project as a nuclear waste dumping site.

Heller went on to call the administration’s budget proposal “anti-Nevada.”

“And I’m not happy about it,” he said. “Not one bit.”

Heller said he would support Trump’s administration when he agrees, and “try to change their minds” on other topics.

Heller also noted his opposition to the Affordable Care Act repeal proposal brought by House Republicans and supported by Trump. That proposal was pulled from the House floor when it was clear there were not enough votes to pass it.

But Heller said he supported the Trump administration in areas such as the missile strike on an air base in Syria in response to a deadly chemical weapon attack in the country.

Heller said the nation needs to discuss immigration more substantively. Heller promised to push for Nevada to have a voice in those discussions, and he noted that he was one of 14 Republican senators to vote for a comprehensive immigration reform bill in 2013.

Shortly after Heller’s speech, Nevada GOP leaders, including Lt. Governor Mark Hutchison, Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson and Assembly Minority Floor Leader Paul Anderson, issued a joint statement commending it.

“After today, there can be no doubt that Senator Heller is an independent voice for all Nevadans. Over the last six years, during times of enormous upheaval, Senator Heller has always put Nevada first,” the statement said. “Frankly, it’s refreshing to have a federal elected official who is not a tool of special interest groups, but who has dedicated his career to the betterment of his state. ”

Democratic lawmakers and progressive groups used Heller’s address to the Legislature as another opportunity to criticize him for supporting Trump’s cabinet picks and to urge him to not vote for any bill that would defund Planned Parenthood.

State Senate Co-Majority Whip Pat Spearman, D-North Las Vegas, and Assembly Assistant Majority Floor Leader Nelson Araujo, D-Las Vegas, blasted Heller for voting to confirm Betsy DeVos as education secretary and Scott Pruitt as head of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Contact Colton Lochhead at clochhead@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4638. Follow @ColtonLochhead on Twitter.