One Year After Appointment To Senate, Heller’s Misplaced Priorities Clear
Heller continues to prioritize Wall Street, Big Oil, and private insurance companies over Nevada’s middle class
Las Vegas, NV – One year ago today, Dean Heller was appointed to the United States Senate to replace Senator John Ensign. For the last year, he has represented the state in Washington – taking votes, making statements and attending events -- each time going on the record about what his priorities are. His first year in the United States Senate gives voters not just a clue – but a clear indication of what his priorities are – and who he is standing up for.
The answer? It’s not middle-class families.
If you look back at his report card for the year, Dean Heller has sided with Wall Street instead of Nevada’s middle-class families almost every time he’s had the opportunity:
· Dean Heller became a senator on May 9, 2011. On May 17 – 8 days after he was sworn into office -- he took his first major vote. It was to protect billions of dollars in taxpayer giveaways to the oil industry. This was his eighth vote in Congress against repealing taxpayer handouts to Big Oil. Then, on May 11 – two days after being sworn in and six days before this vote– a lobbyist for oil company BP, a beneficiary of taxpayer-funded subsidies, cosponsored a high-dollar fundraiser in his honor. Obviously, their investment had the intended effect. This wasn’t his last vote to protect unnecessary Big Oil giveaways – he took his ninth vote to that effect several weeks ago.
· Before his appointment – as a member of the House -- he voted in favor of the Ryan Budget plan – legislation that would dismantle the Medicare system and turn it over to private insurance companies. On May 25 – two weeks after becoming a Senator and eight days after his latest Big Oil vote – Heller became the only member of the United States Congress to vote for the plan twice, something he said he was “proud” to do.
It wasn’t soon after that, that Heller began alienating Nevada’s Latino community with his out-of-touch views on immigration. Heller began his Hispanic outreach efforts by snubbing the Latin Chamber of Commerce and refusing to meet with them. But it’s not just the fact that he doesn’t show up. It’s the positions he’s taken:
· As Senator, Heller reconfirmed his opposition to the DREAM Act – legislation that allows children brought to this country through no fault of their own to earn a pathway to legal status through service in our military or a college education. He has expressed opposition for the need for new legislation like comprehensive immigration reform, and supports extreme immigration laws like those in Arizona and Alabama.
And finally, throughout his last year as an appointed senator -- Heller has reconfirmed his true colors on women’s issues.
· As a member of the House, he voted twice against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and voted twice against the Paycheck Fairness Act. As a member of the Senate, he supported the Blunt Amendment, which restricted access to basic women’s health services like contraception and breast cancer screenings.
The Senate will soon vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act once again. Given that Heller is already on record twice voting against the legislation, we don’t have to guess which side he’ll come out on this time around.
“Whether it’s his first major vote in the Senate to protect Big Oil, his second vote to dismantle Medicare, his positions on legislation like the DREAM Act, his support for the Blunt Amendment, or his opposition to the Paycheck Fairness Act – Dean Heller’s first year as a United States Senator has proved one thing: he is out of touch with Nevada’s middle-class – particularly Nevada’s seniors, Latinos and women,” said Nevada State Democratic Party spokesperson Zac Petkanas. “Nevada voters are evaluating both candidates based on one criterion: who will stand up to the corporate special interests in Washington to fight on their behalf. Dean Heller first year as a United States Senator has given them a very clear choice in this election.”