Heller meets future Senate GOP colleagues
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON – Republican Rep. Dean Heller said Tuesday he intends to work closely with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on issues of importance to their state of Nevada when he enters the U.S. Senate next week.
Reid had what was referred to as a non-aggression pact with Sen. John Ensign, who resigned the seat that Heller is filling. Reid and Ensign agreed not to criticize each other in public, despite their many political differences.
Heller met with his future GOP colleagues at a luncheon. Afterward, he told reporters that based on comments he had heard, Reid’s non-aggression agreement did not seem to be extended to him. Still, Heller said, it’s his intention for the two and their staffs to work together.
Reid recently told Las Vegas radio station KNPR that Heller needed to broaden his views now that he was representing the entire state.
Heller will begin his new job officially on Monday when he’s sworn-in.
Heller said that he had spoken to Ensign only once since the senator announced that he was going to resign, indicating that neither man went out of his way to work together on the transition. Heller said they had a quick conversation the day of Ensign’s resignation and nothing since.
“Unfortunately, we were in recess at the time. It wasn’t like I could walk across the Capitol and knock on his door. So, no, that opportunity did not avail itself,” Heller said.
Heller told GOP senators that he would lean heavily on them during the transition. He also said he hoped the Senate would focus its attention on the high price of gasoline.
“I’m certainly hoping that, as we move in the House on energy policy, that we do the same over here,” Heller said.
Once Heller joins the Senate, Reid could call up for a vote the House budget blueprint that the chamber passed last month. The nonbinding plan would cut $6.2 trillion from yearly federal deficits over the coming decade. The plan makes changes to Medicare and Medicaid that some Democrats say would prove unpopular in next year’s elections.
“I’m not worried about it. I voted for it once. I’m not going to come over here and vote against it,” Heller said. “I’m proud to be the only member of Congress who will get to vote for it twice.”