Heller defends war stance | NevadaAppeal.com

Heller defends war stance

U.S. Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev., speaks to the Legislature on Tuesday. Heller echoed President Bush on Tuesday in telling Nevada lawmakers that congressional Democrats are being "reckless" in setting a timeline for a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. Cathleen Allison/ Nevada Appeal

Saying the troops in Iraq don’t need 535 generals, Rep. Dean Heller told the Nevada Legislature on Tuesday that Congress should stick to the question whether to continue funding the war.

“What Congress shouldn’t do is try to manage the war by setting arbitrary deadlines,” he said in his first address to the Nevada Legislature. “They do not need 535 generals who were boldly for the war before they were boldly against it.”

Asked afterward at what point Congress should decide to get out of Iraq, Heller said that should be left to the generals running the war.

He said he will continue to support the “surge” and “let’s see what happens the next six to nine months.”

Until then, he said, he will vote to fund the war because “I truly believe if we’re not fighting it in Iraq, we’re going to be fighting it on the shores of America.”

Heller said he voted against the Democrat budget because it contains large tax increases and restores the estate tax. He said it will increase the tax burden on Nevadans by $3,000 a year.

He also said he supports some changes to the No Child Left Behind act.

“We’ve got to make sure No Child Left Behind is funded, and there does have to be some flexibility,” he said.

Heller said the federal government has to recognize that what works in Las Vegas and other major metropolitan areas won’t necessarily work in rural Nevada.

He said the learning curve as a freshman member of Congress has been steep: “It comes at you fast.”

But, he said, unlike freshmen from many other states, he is getting help from the rest of Nevada’s congressional delegation.

“One of my first impressions in Congress is how well our Nevada delegation works together,” he said, adding that the two senators and three representatives meet regularly to discuss what’s important to the state.

“That’s not common in Congress,” he said.

With Heller’s address completed, only one member of that delegation remains on the agenda: Rep. Jon Porter who will address a joint session of the Nevada Senate and Assembly on Thursday.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.