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Heller, Amodei vote against budget agreement

U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., joined U.S. Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev. in voting against the budget plan that reopened the federal government Thursday, while other members of the Nevada congressional delegation supported it.

Democrats U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, U.S. Rep. Steven Horsford, who represents Pahrump’s congressional district and U.S. Rep. Dina Titus, who represents the first congressional district, all voted in favor; they were joined by U.S. Rep. Joe Heck, a Republican from District 3. The bill continues government spending but only until Jan. 15 and allows the government to continue borrowing to pay its bills until Feb. 7 while a committee negotiates a budget plan.

Heller and Amodei joined 16 other dissenting senators, as the Senate passed the legislation 81-18, the House of Representatives passed it 285-144. Amodei represents the second congressional district, which included Nye County, until it was redrawn after the 2010 census to include northern Nevada.

“I wanted to be able to support a deal, but this proposal makes no underlying structural changes that will prevent this exact same crisis from happening again in the very near future. Considering this legislation does nothing to place our nation on sound fiscal footing or cultivate a growth economy that will produce jobs in the long term, I cannot support it,” Heller said in casting his no vote.

“For weeks, Washington, D.C. has been at an impasse. Ultimately, the only solution on which Congress could agree kicks the can down the road and delays the difficult decisions for three short months. Only by passing a long-term budget and all spending bills on time can Washington, D.C. break this cycle of economic brinksmanship,” he said.

“Clearly, strong enforcement mechanisms are needed to hold Congress accountable for completing its basic duties, which is why both chambers of Congress should immediately pass ‘No Budget, No Pay.’ If members of Congress do not pass a concurrent budget resolution and all twelve spending bills on time, every year, then they should not get paid,” Heller said.

Heller’s vote drew a quick, harsh response from the state Democratic Party, for voting against a plan negotiated by Senator Reid.

“After voting for an irresponsible shutdown that even his own Republican colleague Brian Sandoval criticized, Dean Heller demonstrated today that he is willing to risk the health of our entire financial system just to take away Nevadans’ access to affordable healthcare,” said Nevada State Democratic Party spokesperson Zach Hudson. “Given his willingness to tank the economy just to deny 600,000 Nevadans healthcare, maybe we’d be better off if Dean Heller just sat in his office answering phones instead of voting on the Senate floor for an economic collapse.”

Reid, the Senate majority leader, thanked the “steady hand” of President Barack Obama and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., for their efforts on reaching an agreement. Reid said he’s confident the spirit of compromise that emerged in the Senate the last two days will continue.

“The eyes of the world were on Washington this week. And while they witnessed a great deal of political discord, today they will also see Congress reach a historic, bipartisan agreement to reopen the government and avert a default on the nation’s bills. The compromise we reached will provide our economy with the stability it desperately needs,” Reid said in remarks on the Senate floor. “It’s never easy for two sides at odds to reach consensus. After weeks spent facing off across a partisan divide that often seemed too wide to cross, our country came to the brink of a disaster. But in the end, political adversaries set aside their differences and disagreements to prevent that disaster.”

The bill instructs party leaders to name conferees to a budget conference committee, led by U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. and U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. which will be expected to negotiate a budget resolution in December.

“This legislation also funds the government through January 15 and averts default through February 7, during which time we can work towards a long-term budget agreement that prevents these frequent crises. And perhaps most importantly, this legislation ends a standoff that ground the work of Washington to a halt this fall,” Reid said.

“I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and both sides of the Capitol to pass this remarkable agreement, which will protect the long-term health of our economy, avert a default on our nation’s debt and allow us to set a foundation for economic expansion,” Reid said. “We have sent a message to Americans from every state and citizens of every country that the United States lives up to its obligations. Now Congress must return to its most important job – fostering economic growth and protecting middle-class families.”

Rep. Horsford, who was criticized by Republicans during the shutdown by voting against a bill to fund the National Nuclear Security Administration — a number of piecemeal House budget bills that didn’t include funding for Obamacare — issued this statement:

“While I am glad our country averted a fiscal crisis, Congress has wasted weeks sidestepping a disaster of its own creation. America teetered on the brink because House Republicans held the well-being of the country hostage for the sake of ideology.”

“Moving forward, Congress must come together to construct a long-term budget solution that prioritizes the middle class. I’m thankful that Nevadans will be able to access many services they previously relied on before the government shutdown. The concerns of working Americans need to be front and center in our legislative work, not the concerns of political ideologues,” Horsford said.

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