Heller votes against Senate budget bill
December 19, 2013
Nevada Republican Sen. Dean Heller kept his word to both Churchill County's and Nevada's veterans.
He did not vote for the Senate budget bill, which still passed 64-36 Wednesday afternoon, because it penalizes veterans' retirement. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Las Vegas, however, voted for the budget and the provision to reduce military pensions.
The budget, which was approved earlier by the House of Representatives, funds the government a little more than $1 trillion a year through 2015 and avoids potential government shutdowns in January and again in October. The only silver lining for the military in the budget bill, though, restored money that had been cut from the military because of sequestration.
Democrats, though, blocked an amendment that would have restored $6 billion in cuts to military retirement pensions during the next 10 years. That also raised Heller's ire.
"We're doing a disservice by balancing $6 billon out of their pensions," Heller said.
In a rural telephone press conference attended by the Lahontan Valley News and Elko Daily Free Press, Heller said he received many calls and emails from veterans who expressed outrage with the cut in military retirement. He said the push back was great from both the service members and families.
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The bill included a provision that reduces cost of living adjustments military retiree benefits annually by 1 percent. If left intact, the average veteran could lose upward to $75,000-$80,000 during a lifetime after leaving the military.
"I won't support this," Heller said, adding the budget should not be balanced repeatedly on military men and women.
"To single them out is disgraceful," Heller added.
The junior senator from Nevada also said he was also dismayed that Congress negotiated another budget bill that looks at the immediate future but not "down the road."
"It is a shame that Congress has decided to try to balance the budget on the backs of our nation's wounded warriors and their fellow comrades," Heller added. "Despite calls for fiscal responsibility from Americans, Congress has yet again decided to pass another short-term deal that blatantly avoids tackling our long-term debt. This fiscal path that we are on is simply unsustainable, which is why Congress needs to act now to craft a long-term solution and make a determined effort to bring fiscal sanity to our great nation."