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July 24, 2014

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Nevada delegation sits together at Obama speech

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Karoun Demirjian

From left, Nevada Reps. Joe Heck, Shelley Berkley and Dean Heller react to President Barack Obama’s announcement that he will veto bills that contain earmarks during the State of the Union address Tuesday night in the U.S. Capitol.

State of the Union

President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011. Launch slideshow »

Sun Coverage

Members of Nevada's congressional delegation sat together in a sign of bipartisan cooperation at President Barack Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night, but their reaction to his speech still broke mostly along party lines.

Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley invited Republican Reps. Dean Heller and Joe Heck to sit with her during the address. She was especially supportive of the president's continued commitment to expanding the use of renewable energy to help break U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

But Republican Sen. John Ensign said "talk is cheap." He said the bipartisanship of sitting together was a "nice tone, a nice gesture, but that's all it is."

Heller said Obama's proposed budget cuts don't go far enough to make up for a "massive spending spree" the last four years.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid backed most of Obama's ideas but rejected his call to ban earmarks for home state projects in spending bills. Reid said the idea unfairly "takes power away from the legislative branch of government." He said Obama's embrace of the ban promoted by the GOP is just a "lot of pretty talk."

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Other comments from the Nevada delegation on the State of the Union address:

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"Tonight we heard a blueprint for how to move our country forward by investing in what works and cutting what doesn't. ... Republicans have a responsibility to work with us to create jobs instead of wasting time with pointless political stunts. Republicans should join us in looking to the future instead of re-fighting old battles and pressing extreme, ideological plans to end Social Security and Medicare." — Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.

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"I heard the term 'investment' a lot and that's just a code word for spending. When we're borrowing 40 cents out of every dollar that we spend, we need serious cutbacks in spending and literally everything needs to be on the table. ... He didn't touch entitlements, he didn't touch any of the big problems like defense. ... I was pleased that the president did embrace our earmark moratorium; I think that's a good thing to do because earmarks are just buying too many votes to increase spending." — Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev.

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"While I support calls for limits on new spending and plans to lower our debt and deficit, I am concerned about the impact on Nevada at a time when our state is facing huge budget cuts that already threaten education and other priorities. The rising cost of gas in Las Vegas and across America reminds us that we must expand our use of renewable energy and break our dependence on foreign oil." — Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev.

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"As Nevada and our nation continue to struggle with high unemployment, it is imperative that Congress and this administration find common ground to turn our nation's economy around. However, more taxpayer-funded stimulus spending is not the path to economic recovery. We need to embrace policies that will allow our economy to grow and get Americans back to work. That starts with getting government out of the way and controlling spending." — Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev.

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