By Lukas Eggen
Ely Times Staff Writer

Since the 2012 election, Republican Senator Dean Heller became part of a congress that saw its approval across the country plummet because of various issues. Despite this, Heller said while there are struggles, he looks forward to the challenge.

“Unfortunately, Washington is paralyzed by politics and has been reduced to sound bites,” Heller said. “In many ways, the Senate can be a frustrating place to work, but at the same time, it is an honor to go to work every day with the goal of improving people’s lives. This year, I have tried to focus on finding reasonable solutions that can help people at home.”

While congress took criticism during 2013, Heller said he was proud of the things he was able to take part in and accomplish during the year.

“As far as the biggest accomplishment of 2013, I think that, as a whole, the amount of legislation that we have been able to tackle in the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee has been fulfilling,” Heller said. “I am proud to report that President Obama signed the Stolen Valor Act into law. The committee has also agreed to adopt several measures that I have introduced, including a provision that requires greater cooperation from other federal agencies so that the VA can process claims more quickly. A provision that I introduced to secure education benefits for surviving spouses of service members who die in the line of duty has made significant progress through the committee, as has a measure to help the surviving spouses manage their veteran-owned business or a disabled-veteran-owned business. Along with my colleagues, I have also tackled the need to for housing for homeless veterans, and especially our women veterans and their dependents.”

As Heller’s attention turns toward 2014, Heller said he will focus on holding congress accountable and finding ways to help the residents of Nevada, including White Pine County.

“For five years, congress has been paralyzed by gridlock, and has failed to pass a budget,” Heller said. “Passing a budget and spending bills on time is one of congress’ basic responsibilities. It’s also an important step towards determining our nation’s long-term goals and reining in our debt. If congress does not pass a budget on time, then congress should not get paid. I will continue to advocate for my No Budget, No Pay legislation, which withholds pay from members of congress if congress does not do its basic duty and pass a budget and spending bills. One of the highlights of my job is helping people at home.

“My staff and I stand ready to help the people of White Pine who need help, whether that means they need assistance with their Social Security payments, or perhaps securing their Medicare benefits. These issues will always be a priority.”

While Heller will look to help congress navigate several issues facing the country, Heller said he is looking to stay in contact with White Pine County residents through town hall phone calls, receiving letters and visiting. But while he looks to continue to work toward helping Nevada residents, Heller said congress as a whole must undergo a major change in order to earn back the trust of the American people.

“The ‘do nothing’ status quo in Washington must be done away with,” Heller said. “Missed deadline after missed deadline have been the pattern throughout this congress. One thing I am sure we can all agree on is that congress can’t continue kicking the can down the road threatening the fiscal sustainability for future generations. If nothing changes, either our nation’s ever-increasing debt or rampant inflation will crush our economy. We have to end this cycle of inaction and indecisiveness.”