US Senator Dean Heller from Nevada held a telephone press conference for rural northern Nevada newspapers recently. After a few short introductory comments, he allowed reporters to ask questions.
He said he is working to get a child tax credit passed. The goal is to have tax reform, including the effort to give parents with young children double the current tax credit, out of the US Senate before the Thanksgiving recess.
“I sent a letter to the Senate leadership saying I’d like to see us stay here and work 24-7 if that’s what it takes to get it done,” Heller said. “If we can get this tax bill done I think we’ll see this economy boom like we’ve never seen since Reagan.”
He is also concerned that there are 160 judicial vacancies that need senate confirmation.
“I wake up every morning worrying about two things,” Heller said. “Getting conservative judges in place and tax reform. Right now, that’s a boatload of things to worry about.”
One of the things those conservative judges could do is support fewer government regulations. According to Heller, the current administration’s successful efforts to roll back regulation has “probably saved hundreds of billions of dollars for small businesses, which is helping to boost confidence.”
“They’re willing to spend their money, willing to invest money to create the kind of growth we need to in this country to create jobs and compete worldwide,” he said.
As efforts to pass changes to health care have failed a couple of times earlier this year, Heller was asked whether there may be another effort to make changes to the Affordable Care Act.
“When we have 50 votes to change the law, we will,” he answered, adding that he believes the effort to pass new health care legislation is still short that number of votes. He said that contrary to the charge that Nevadan’s would lose their health care, the changes he’s working toward would bring Nevada more money and more flexibility.
“What we have now is a one-size-fits-all plan from Washington D.C.,” Heller said. “Let’s take it to the 50 states — I believe the states can do a better job than the federal government can.”
He mentioned one essential element of any legislation on health care will be the ability for individuals to purchase health insurance across state lines. He noted that people can currently purchase car, life or home owners insurance across state lines and said that needs to be possible for health insurance too.
Opposition to changes in the Affordable Care Act is backed by health insurance companies, Heller indicated. “We know where the insurance companies are on this — they want to continue their subsidies.”
He said the system that currently subsidizes health insurance companies works well for them – they’re very healthy and making a tremendous amount of money. “However, it doesn’t work for the average policy holder,”he said. “We need to change it.”
Asked about efforts to revisit rules on sage grouse protection, Heller said “All we want to do is make sure that sage grouse are protected but that western lands are still available for multiple use, including agriculture and mining.”
Heller was challenged about his opposition to having Yucca Mountain named a permanent nuclear waste repository — given that the people he represents in Nye County, where Yucca Mountain is located, have voiced their support of the repository in Yucca Mountain. He said he understands Nye County’s position well.
“We’ll have to agree to disagree,” he said. “I represent Nye but also 16 other counties and have to take that into consideration too. I am the only person standing between Yucca happening and not happening and I have committed to continue to do everything I can. I will try to keep it out of the Senate and keep it from crossing any finish line. I’ll do everything I can to keep it off the floor. If it gets on the floor, I’ll do everything I can to keep it from coming up for a vote. If it comes up for a vote, I’ll do everything I can to kill the vote.”