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Heller’s Complicated Shutdown History

In 2011, Heller introduced a controversial bill to prioritize paying Chinese debt over U.S. troops and veterans in a shutdown

In 2013, Heller was one of just 18 Republicans senators who voted against ending a 16-day government shutdown because of the Affordable Care Act

While Nevada’s Republican Sen. Dean Heller desperately scrambles today to shift the blame for the GOP’s government shutdown, let’s not forget that Heller has made his shutdown priorities clear in the past:

  • In 2011, Heller personally introduced a bill that would prioritize paying down foreign debt to the Chinese over American veterans and troops in the event of a government shutdown. You can’t make this up.

  • In 2013, Heller sided with his party’s ideological crusade to delay and defund the Affordable Care Act. After a costly 16-day government shutdown, Heller was one of just 18 GOP senators – a minority even within his own party’s caucus – to vote against ending the shutdown.

Nevada State Democratic Party spokesperson Sarah Abel released the following statement on Heller’s complicated shutdown history:

“Sen. Dean Heller’s record never fails to illustrate what a dishonest and out-of-touch politician he’s become in Washington. The past few days have further exposed Dean Heller as a misleading hypocrite who can’t be trusted and doesn’t belong in public office.”


2011: Heller Introduced Legislation To Prioritize Paying Down Foreign Debt To China Over Paying American Veterans, Troops If A Government Shutdown Occurs. In February 2011, Heller introduced legislation that, if a government shutdown occurred, would emphasize “…two priorities for spending tax dollars: paying Social Security checks and paying down foreign debt… Democrats are crying foul over what they say are misplaced priorities: planning for doomsday but not doing anything to stave it off. ‘Not only is Dean Heller refusing to take a government shutdown off the table that would deny Nevada seniors their Medicare, he actually advocates paying the Chinese before the salaries of U.S. troops and the benefits American veterans have earned,’ said an aide to one Democratic member of the delegation, calling that outlook ‘irresponsible.’” [Las Vegas Sun, 2/10/2011]

2013: Heller Said He Didn’t Plan On Changing His Opposition To Budget Proposal, But Was Open To Funding The Government If The Federal Health Care Law Were Delayed A Year. “As for the shutdown negotiations, Heller said that he’d know more after a 5:30 p.m. leadership meeting. He said he didn’t plan on changing his stance, but he was open to funding the government if the federal health care law were delayed a year – he noted part had been delayed already – or if Congress were also held to the same standards on health care as everyone else. (They are actually required to use the health care exchanges).” [Reno Gazette-Journal, 10/3/13]

  • Heller’s Vote Against Ending Debate On A Resolution To Continue Funding The Government Put Him In The Minority Even In His Own Party. “Heller was one of only 19 senators Friday who voted against ending debate on a resolution to continue funding the government past Monday. Heller was in the minority even in his own party. Twenty-five Republicans joined with 52 Democrats and two independents to approve a measure to end debate and proceed to a vote on a resolution to fund the government through Nov. 15.” [Reno Gazette-Journal, 10/3/13; Senate Vote 219, 10/16/13]

2013: Heller Was One Of 18 Senate Republicans To Vote Against The Deal To Reopen The Government And Extend The Debt Ceiling, Which Passed 81-18. “Eighteen Senate Republicans vote against the deal to reopen the government and extend the debt ceiling, which passed 81-18. Here’s the breakdown of the ‘no’ votes (a full breakdown of the vote is at the bottom of this post): […] 4 more come from swing or Democratic-leaning states: Sens. Charles Grassley (Iowa), Dean Heller (Nev.), Ron Johnson (Wis.), and Pat Toomey (Pa.).” [Washington Post, The Fix, 10/16/13]