Heller: Take politics out of poker bill
U.S. Sen. Dean Heller said online gaming legislation critical to the future of Nevada’s economy should be removed from the world of politics so partisan fights don’t “poison the water” for the bill’s future in Congress.Heller, who made the comments while being interviewed Tuesday for the “Nevada NewsMakers” television program, said the legislation is too important to be subjected to political fights between himself and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid between now and the Nov. 6 general election.Reid earlier this month blamed Heller for failing to line up Republican support in the Senate for the measure.Heller, R-Nev., is locked in a fierce battle with Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., to retain his Senate seat.“So I believe at the end of the day, we’ll have the 10-15 (GOP) votes that we’re going to need in order to get a bill like this passed,” Heller said. “But we don’t need the politics playing in it today. And we don’t need to poison the water on this also.“Let’s get the politics out of this,” he said. “Let’s put an important issue like Internet poker to the sidelines during this campaign because it isn’t helping the process. And unfortunately in this case, the process is just as important as the bill itself.”Heller predicted that after the election, he and Reid will again work together on the Internet poker bill.“The Internet poker bill was never going to pass before the election,” he said. “It’s going to happen. And I’m still committed, as is Sen. Reid, to get a bill passed.“When this is all said and done, both sides are going to come together and say, ‘OK, let’s do what’s best for Nevada,’” Heller said.Berkley also criticized Heller on the online gaming issue in a statement released earlier this month: “Once again, Senator Dean Heller has failed to deliver for Nevada’s hardworking families who were counting on online poker legislation to boost the state’s struggling economy and to create thousands of good paying jobs.“Perhaps Senator Heller shouldn’t have spent so much time cozying up to Wall Street special interests by protecting tax breaks for corporations that ship American jobs overseas and more time doing what Nevada families expect of their elected leaders: putting people back to work,” she said.During the interview, Heller also criticized Berkley for not spending more time in Northern Nevada in her Senate race, including failing to make any recent appearances on the NewsMakers program. Her last appearance was on Feb. 1, 2011.“Well, as much time as I spend in Southern Nevada I think she should be spending some time up here in Northern Nevada,” he said.Berkley has made several campaign appearances in Northern and rural Nevada, including stops in Churchill County over the Labor Day weekend.