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November 27, 2014

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election 2012:

Heller votes with Democrats on veterans’ jobs bill, but GOP still able to block it

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Steve Marcus

Sen. Dean Heller, Sen. Harry Reid and Rep. Shelley Berkley applaud during a Memorial Day ceremony at the Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City Monday, May 30, 2011.

Sen. Dean Heller was one of just a small handful of Republicans in the Senate who crossed the aisle Wednesday to join Democrats in supporting a bill to create jobs for veterans.

But efforts to advance the bill failed anyway — another victim of the partisan, pre-election proxy war members of Congress continue to wage in Washington.

The Senate came two votes short of the 60-vote hurdle needed to avoid a filibuster on a measure to steer a billion dollars toward getting up to 20,000 veterans employed.

Democrats wrote the bill with a healthy measure of bipartisan support: Eight of the 12 provisions in the bill were Republican-generated ideas, according to Sen. Patty Murray, chairwoman of the Senate’s Veterans Affairs Committee. The bill included contributions from legislation Heller had introduced earlier, to protect the small-business interests of military families. Under the proposed bill, widowed or orphaned relatives of troops killed in action who are bequeathed their fallen relative's small business would be treated as veteran owners, and be given the same preference for government contracts as veteran-owned businesses.

Murray called the vote “a stark reminder that ... Senate Republicans are willing to do absolutely anything to fulfill the pledge they made nearly two years ago to defeat President Obama — it doesn’t matter who gets in their way ... even if it’s our nation’s veterans.” She later added: “Veterans are watching this vote closely.”

Republican leaders were fairly silent about the vote Wednesday, with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell avoiding all questions from reporters at his public appearances.

But many Senate Republicans voiced their objections to the bill on the floor in past days. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky demanded the Senate attach language about cutting foreign aid to Pakistan until the government there releases the Pakistani doctor who helped the United States find Osama bin Laden — he has been sentenced to 33 years in jail for treason.

Others, like Sens. Jeff Sessions of Alabama and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, argued the bill spends too much money on a duplicative program.

“The desire to help veterans is a noble desire ... but what are the other things that we’re doing for jobs for veterans and how well are they working?” Coburn asked. “We have six veteran job training programs. We already have a preference across the federal government for hiring veterans ... What we have is a bill that's brought to the floor that has good intentions behind it but shows the absolute laziness of Congress in terms of really digging things out.”

But those three senators aren’t facing the same sort of stiff election challenges this year as other Republicans who chose to back the bill.

Sens. Heller and Scott Brown of Massachusetts were two of the five Republicans who elected to buck the party and add their support to the bill — which they emphasized by highlighting that legislative effort in statements directed toward the veteran community.

“Job creation is and continues to be my No. 1 priority — especially for our veterans,” Heller said in a statement released shortly after the vote. “After everything our veterans have done for us, the least we can do is make sure they are afforded every opportunity to thrive here at home. We owe a debt of gratitude to these heroes and I am proud to support the Veterans Jobs Corps Bill.”

Heller and his Senate rival Shelley Berkley have been trying to one-up each other with displays of their support for veterans throughout this election season.

Berkley saw her past efforts to get a VA hospital in Southern Nevada funded realized. Heller introduced a bill to make it easier for people to drive to that hospital. Berkley introduced a bill to increase the burial benefits given to families of veterans killed in action. Shortly after, Heller introduced the aforementioned bill to give the families of veteran small-business owners killed in action the same status as other veteran-owned businesses. Berkley’s and Heller’s supporters have even been demonstrating against each other in recent days over which candidate enjoys more support among Filipino-American veterans.

But the flurry of veteran-focused activity between Berkley and Heller has been more visible on the campaign trail than it has been in Congress. Neither Berkley nor Heller’s legislative ventures have come anywhere near being signed into law — Heller’s provisions in the bill voted on in the Senate Wednesday are as far as any veterans measure has progressed through the legislative process.

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  1. I commend Rep. Heller for his vote. He did the right thing.

    To the rest of the 60 Republican cowards, I hope they don't spend a second longer in Congress when their terms are up. They are un-American, and useless lumps claiming to be Senators.

    The same goes for the Republican House members, both of whom have made our Congress a laughing stock as they bowed down to their unelected God, Grover Norquist.

    Each of them deserve a Metal of Shame!

    Am I angry? You bet I am!

  2. Thank you to all who have served in good faith in the wars of the U.S.

    My suggestion is that all citizens should boycott any future enlistments.

    It is not worth putting your life on the line in the U.S. military in any war that is not in direct defense of our nation, within our legal boundaries.

    Some politicians don't respect you, and work against you.

    I suggest that for those who have little or no opportunities, try to link up with alternative worker coops, or form some, and make a success of them and your lives.

    Go competitive and make known who you are. I would put your business as a priority in my choice of where to buy or seek services.

    I would rather invest my resources in people of honor than those who would support giving you the shaft.

  3. Heller has my vote!

  4. We hope Heller is not deceiving the voters with his vote for the Veterans Jobs Bill. After all, four Republican Senators who co-sponsored the Veterans Jobs Bill voted against the bill. Now, is this just plan crazy!!! You have to call it for what it is, Republicans are deceiving the American public. The Republicans say and do one thing to get our attention as if they are doing the reasonable thing, once our backs are turned, the Republicans do the opposite!!

    Deception, fraud, this is the Republican Party. Call them for what they are. Judge them by their final actions. The Republican Party is lying to the America public! They don't care. They will lie at the drop of a hat! Their standard bearer, Mitt Romney sets the tone for lying, distortions of facts, and using misleading statements. So, can we believe Dean Heller? We think not!! A track record of lies, during a campaign of lies. Why would anyone of them change now?

    Dean Heller, stop deceiving Nevadans!!! Stop lying. Stop distorting the facts. Stop using misleading statements to fool Nevadans. Dean Heller, Nevadans don't believe you. Why? Because your party, the Republican Party, is lying to the American public. You guys aren't hiding it, you don't care. We need a new congress, now!

  5. I don't trust Heller. Maybe he did the right thing here, but this is just a flashlight beam of goodness in an incredible supernova burst of light of Tea/Republican ineptitude. Don't believe me? Look at his voting record. As a reminder, he is the only serving politician who voted for the first radical and extreme Ryan Plan TWICE, once in the House and in the Senate.

    Heller knows he was appointed as Senator in Nevada here. Not elected. Not even popularly elected. APPOINTED. By another Tea/Republican (Governor Sandoval).

    And he replaced a complete utterly disgusting and disgraced Senator who had to quit before either being thrown out on his keester and/or criminally prosecuted for being corrupt (Ensign).

    If you look at the overall voting records of both Heller and Ensign, you will see no remarkable difference at all. They both say no, block, obstruct, fillibuster, and stand in the way of any and all progress America could ever hope to attain to fix things...all because they both decide to follow party politics for years.

    Enough. Heller is a goner. He is only in campaign mode. He's not interested in helping Nevada. He only wants to help himself.

    I'm sick and tired of the constant political games the Tea/Republicans continue to do. It only benefits them. But the people out here? What does it get us? It gets us nowhere.

    Straight up and down the ballot, I'm voting Democratic Party. I am voting angry, with seething unbridled hate. I want to simply DESTROY the Tea/Republican Party. On all levels, I'm throwing all of them out with my vote.

    Obama/Biden 2012! AND a Democratic Party majority in both the House and the Senate!