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(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) spoke at the Senate Committee on Finance Subcommittee on Health Care hearing titled, “A Fresh Look at the Impact of the Medical Device Tax on Jobs, Innovation, and Patients.”  More specifically, Heller highlighted Nevada’s need for pro-growth policy rather than burdensome taxes, like the Medical Device Tax, which stifle economic development and deter medical innovation.

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(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) spoke at the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Hearing on “Fulfilling the Promise to Women Veterans.” The hearing was requested by Senator Heller earlier this year and examined what progress the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has made in offering gender-specific care to women veterans.

Heller Emphasizes Importance of Womens' Clinics at VA Hospitals

Heller Stresses Importance of Fulfilling the Promises Made to Nevada's Women Veterans

Background:

In February, Senator Heller sent a letter to the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee requesting the committee hold a hearing to assess the VA’s efforts to care for our nation’s women veterans and returning female service members. You can read the letter here.

Today, nearly 2.3 million women are U.S. veterans, including 27,000 in Nevada. Given the number is expected to rise, Senator Heller has taken the lead by introducing the bipartisan Women Veterans Access to Quality Care Act (S. 471). Heller’s legislation, introduced along with Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), will do the following:

  • Require VA to establish standards in VA health care facilities to meet the specific needs of women veterans and integrate these standards into prioritization for construction projects.
  • Analyze women’s health outcomes as a performance measure for VA medical center executives.
  • Require every VA medical center to have a full-time obstetrician and/or gynecologist.
  • Improve outreach to veterans by requiring VA to provide state veterans agencies with contact information for veterans.
  • Require a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study of VA’s ability to meet the needs of women veterans and their privacy and security in VA facilities.

The Women Veterans Access to Quality Care Act has been endorsed by:

In March, the Senate agreed to Heller Amendment #456 to the FY2016 Budget Resolution (S. Con. Res. 11), which ensures Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical facilities properly meet the needs of women veterans by taking into account their safety, privacy, and dignity. The amendment was cosponsored by Senators Murray, Bob Casey (D-PA), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI).

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Senator Dean Heller's remarks to the Nevada State Legislature as prepared

Good evening. It is always an honor to speak to you. This session is proving to be exciting and there is a lot of work to be done. Thank you for taking the time to be here this evening.

I would also like to thank Governor Brian Sandoval, Lieutenant Governor Mark Hutchison, and Speaker John Hambrick for having me here tonight. Leaders Michael Roberson, Aaron Ford, and Marilyn Kirkpatrick, thanks to you as well. If I may, I would like to welcome back Senator Debbie Smith to this body. It will be good to have her back.

As you’ve heard, Senator Harry Reid recently announced he will be retiring. Harry’s served our state with distinction in both local and state government before representing Nevada in Washington. Harry’s coming home to Nevada, and I’m sure his family is looking forward to spending more time with him.

Out of a number of Nevada elected officials who have passed away since last session, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on a few that stood out in my life. 

Joe Dini was a long-serving member and former Speaker of the Assembly when I was here, and Marv Teixeira was a former mayor of Carson City. Marv was also a Pop Warner and Little League coach of mine when I was a kid. I also worked with Bernie Anderson and Pete Livermore. The leadership of these men will be missed greatly. So will their service to our state.

And though he was never an elected official, he was a fixture in the Nevada Legislature for almost 30 years. I’m talking about Ed Vogel. When I served as Secretary of State, Ed and I operated under an open-door policy. It didn’t matter if I would have had a closed door policy, Ed would’ve kicked it down to get the answers he needed. His service and institutional knowledge at the capital for the Review Journal will be greatly missed.

Today I am in familiar territory. Carson is home for me. Always has been. Always will be. As many of you know, my father – who is in attendance today along with my mother - owned and operated an automotive shop just across the street. 

Hanging around my Dad’s garage sweeping the floors taught me some of life’s most valuable lessons. Being a small business owner is not easy. You have to wake up early and stay late. But it instills discipline and a work ethic that inherently teaches you responsibility. Of course, I’d also like to point out that I am probably the only U.S. Senator that can tune up your car, work on your transmission, and – if you need it --  sweep your garage floor. 

The Nevada Legislature…..

This is the body where I got my start in public service. I look back at that time fondly.  You learn a lot here, and you make many friends also.

Your work here is to help our state advance and become a better place for its citizens. I have the same job in Washington DC.  And the good news is:  we’ve turned the corner in Washington. For the first time in six years the US Senate is open for business!   We passed a balanced budget .   Committees are working.   Amendments are introduced. They are debated and bills are passed.

In fact, a week ago Thursday, in 4 hours, we had more amendments than in all of last year!

My priorities in Washington revolve around one word: progress. I learned very quickly that moving forward and fighting for a cause requires you to stick to your principles. I’ve also learned that when you’re crafting legislation and you get 80 percent of what you want, you take it! Then, you wake up the next morning, and fight for the other 20 percent.

Since I last spoke to this esteemed body, I’ve become a grandfather for a second time. It’s my grandchildren’s future and your children and grandchildren’s future that I’m fighting for. It’s why I am an outspoken supporter of passing a budget in Washington. Nevadans, this legislative body, and all American families have to live on a budget.

We’re 18 trillion dollars in debt.  Our country continues to borrow 4 million dollars per minute.  By the end of this speech, our nation will have borrowed 60 million dollars!

(by the way this is only going to be a 15 minute speech!)

It only takes two days for the Federal Government to borrow Nevada’s entire state budget!!

Now that I have your attention, let me tell you what I believe are the responsibilities of your federal government.

First, provide for a strong national defense.

Second, encourage commerce and maintain infrastructure.

Third, provide a safety net for those who fall on tough times.

Let’s take number 1.   Providing a strong defense doesn’t end on the battlefield. It extends to ensuring our veterans are properly taken care of when they return home after service.

Every day when I drive to work in Washington, I pass by the Iwo Jima Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery. These monuments and grave sites serve as a testament to the sacrifices of our Armed Services and constantly remind me of our responsibility to care for these men and women.

One of the greatest privileges of serving Nevada in the US Senate is the opportunity to sit on the Senate Veterans Affairs’ Committee. With Nevada being home to over 300,000 veterans, and with approximately 27,000 of those being women veterans, I remain committed to advocating on behalf of the issues facing our veterans locally and nationwide.

Chief among them is the VA Disability Claims Backlog.  I took the lead on the Veterans Affairs’ Committee to reduce the average wait time for Nevada veterans’ benefit claims by spearheading the VA Backlog Working Group. While the wait time has improved from 478 days to 257 days, it is still far from the 125 days that the VA has promised and remains one of the longest wait times in the nation. It’s unacceptable and until the backlog is eliminated, I won’t back down.

I also believe the VA must look to the future and better prepare for the rise in number of women veterans. Today, nearly 2.3 million women are veterans of military service.  As I mentioned, here in Nevada we have 27,000 of them. That’s why I teamed with Senator Patty Murray of Washington, a Democrat, on legislation to make sure privacy and security in VA medical facilities are up to par and that each facility offers a full range of services to ensure female veterans are receiving proper care.

Let’s move on to the economy. As reports have indicated, Nevada is fortunate in that its economy is recovering better than many states. This is great news. Thanks to the Governor’s leadership, our state has fared better than many.

Recently, I was assigned to the Senate Finance Committee. I sought this specifically, because it allows me to help many of Nevada’s citizens. I’ll now be able to focus on strengthening and protecting key programs like Social Security and Medicare. These are important programs Nevadans depend on, and we must ensure they are around for years to come.

This assignment also gives our state a seat at the table to discuss tax reform. When it comes to simplifying the tax code, I feel no different than most of you. It’s too big, too complicated, too expensive. A friend of mine used to joke that the tax code is as long as the Bible, but with none of the good news.

The last time the federal tax code was updated Ronald Reagan was President, Tip O’Neill was Speaker of the House, Dick Bryan was our Governor and a gallon of gas cost you 93 cents. That was back in 1986. 

I do believe fundamental tax reform is within our reach. Let me tell you why it should happen:

  • First, our country is 18 trillion dollars in debt.
  • Second, in the last few years, there were 30 inversions – that’s when a company’s headquarters moves to a foreign country for a better tax climate. The latest example of this is Burger King.
  • Finally, in the last 10 years, 1,300 companies have been bought out by foreign-controlled interests. One of the most recent was the company that makes bats for America’s past time: the Louisville Slugger. That’s over 100 years of tradition bought out by a Finnish company.

Everybody in this room,  Every Nevadan,  Every American agrees this trend must be reversed. The only way that will happen is through fundamental tax reform.

Now, let me tell you why tax reform is not happening:

  • Today the White House will only participate in fundamental tax reform if it includes a trillion dollars in tax increases.
  • In 1986, the last time we had tax reform, it was revenue neutral, agreed to by Republicans and Democrats.
  • And President Reagan made it happen.

Don’t get me wrong, when I think the President is right, I’ll support him. When I think the President is wrong, I won’t.  President Bush wasn’t always right and he wasn’t always wrong. As leaders in Washington, if we understand this and work together, we’ll move the country forward. 

This morning I was in Boulder City with the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Joe Hardy where we broke ground on Interstate 11. Infrastructure is a top priority of mine. Interstate 11 is important for our state and important to me. I am pushing key legislation on I-11 on the Senate floor and am proud to see this project moving closer to become reality. Last year over 40 million visitors came to the Silver State supporting almost 400,000 jobs. This designation of I-11 connects the two most populous cities in America without an existing freeway already between them.  It has the potential to open even more markets for tourism and trade which will improve our economy and create jobs.

I believe it is important to find creative solutions to enact a long-term surface transportation bill and keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent without increasing our nation’s deficit. As the co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee’s Working Group on Infrastructure, I am well positioned to advocate on behalf of Nevada’s and our nation’s transportation needs. I strongly believe that infrastructure plays a key role in our nation’s and Nevada’s economic growth.  This is why I am seeking a long-term extension of the highway bill. It will provide jobs in the short term and economic growth in the long term. 

 

 

As Nevadans recover from one of the worst housing markets in history, I will continue to protect their interests as a member of the Banking Committee. For many people, their home is their largest asset. I want to make sure it stays just that: an asset and not a liability. Some people are arguing that we now live in a rental society. I have four young adult children of my own, and I worry about their generation. A whole generation of young adults has now witnessed their parents struggle in this economy. These young adults have gone to college, acquired student loan debt, and struggled to find a job after graduation. It is no wonder why so many are putting off the American dream of owning a home.

And for those Nevadans that already own a home, I teamed with Democrat Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan to introduce legislation that will benefit many Nevadans: the Mortgage Debt Relief Act. I have been fighting for continuous extensions of the Mortgage Debt Relief Act for years. While the housing crisis may have ended for some, I can tell you in Nevada there are still many who have to sell their home at a loss in a short sale. I still can’t figure out how the IRS thinks its makes any sense to tax someone on income they have never seen.

This legislation is a prime example of how Washington can help Nevada’s families. 

With over 85 percent of the land in Nevada being owned and controlled by the federal government, I’m a big proponent of transferring much of our land back to local or state government control.

Since my first days in the House, I’ve made sure lands bills were a priority.

In December, we had eight lands bills included in key legislation that passed Congress and was signed into law by the President. Some of the areas positively affected are the Fallon Naval Air Station and the counties of: Lyon, Elko, Clark, Humboldt, and Storey.

Best of all, we were able to get input and local buy in from municipalities and counties across the state. It was a team effort and a strong coalition of public and private entities that did a lot of heavy lifting over the course of many years. We were able to see some of the fruits of our labor finally recognized.

A prime example of what this means to local communities is the City of Yerington. The City will now work with Nevada Copper to expand its mining operation and create over a thousand jobs while also providing new infrastructure and recreational opportunities.

In Southern Nevada, I was proud to team with Congressman Joe Heck on legislation to speed access to public lands so volunteer search groups could conduct searches for missing people. The Good Samaritan Search and Recovery Act will keep families from having to wait on the federal government and its bureaucratic red tape when it comes to searching for a missing loved one on public lands.

I have no doubt, in the coming years, our state will benefit tremendously from the economic development spurred on by these historic lands bills. 

In these difficult times it is more important than ever that we work together, find common ground, and make tough decisions in order to get people back to work. In Washington, I try to be as pragmatic as possible without compromising my principles. Like all of you, I want to see our state succeed, and I work every single day to achieve that goal. That’s been a steady theme of my time in office and one I hope to continue. It’s about making progress so tomorrow is a better day for future generations of Nevadans.

A great president once stated, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”  I challenge this legislative body to heed these words by Abraham Lincoln and create Nevada’s future.

Thank you for your time. I appreciate the opportunity to be here today.

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U.S. Senator Dean Heller has launched the Southern Nevada Veterans Advisory Council to bring together stakeholders in the community who are dedicated to helping Nevada veterans. Members of the council will uncover areas of need and explore ways to better serve veterans in the Silver State. Each council member will provide feedback, information, and advice on how policy issues and legislation affect Nevada’s heroes.

Today, U.S. Senator Dean Heller presented the Congressional Badge of Bravery to Officer German Rodriguez of the Reno Police Department and recognized him for his heroism in the line of duty.

BACKGROUND:

Congress passed the Law Enforcement Congressional Badge of Bravery Act of 2008 to honor acts of bravery undertaken by law enforcement officers. Officer Rodriguez is being honored for disarming a gunman who fatally shot a customer at a local Bank of America on October 16, 2013. While Officer Rodriguez was not on duty, he was able to follow the suspect, and disarm him until responding officers arrived a short time later to take him into custody.

(Washington, DC) – Today, United States Senator Dean Heller spoke on the Senate floor about his amendment to S. 178, the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015. More specifically, Heller’s amendment ensures that Department of Homeland Security personnel are properly trained to prevent human trafficking.

REMARKS AS PREPARED:

Mr. /Madam President,

I rise today in support of the bill that’s currently pending before us, the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act. 

I commend the senior Senators from Texas and Minnesota for coming together in a bipartisan fashion on this vitally important human rights legislation.

Because this is such a bipartisan bill and frankly a non-partisan issue, I am frustrated that we are at an impasse on moving this bill forward with an open debate. 

Let me repeat, this is a non-partisan issue, and I encourage my colleagues across the aisle to move forward with an open debate on this vitally important human rights legislation.

Every day, countless innocent victims are bought and sold into modern-day slavery here in America.

All too often, many of these victims are children.  As a father of four and a grandfather, I believe every child should have the opportunity to grow up in a loving and safe environment. 

Unfortunately, this is not the case for too many children.  

Recognizing this is an important issue, my home state of Nevada has taken action over the past several years, not only to assist victims of trafficking, but also to ensure these victims have the opportunity to seek compensation from their traffickers. 

Given Nevada’s unique location, especially southern Nevada, this is a crime that is all too prevalent within my home state.  

Just to give you an idea, two years ago, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department reported that 2,144 sex-trafficking victims under age 18 were “rescued” in Las Vegas since 1994, which is an average of 126 per year. That’s one person every three days that was rescued.

More than half of these victims were from Nevada and the rest had been trafficked through the state. 

While Nevada has taken important steps forward in providing restitution for victims of trafficking, much more needs to be done to stop this crime from occurring in the first place. 

All too often, trafficking is a crime that is hidden in plain sight.  But it occurs in every single state.

That is why it is vitally important to recognize the warning signs of someone who may be a victim of human trafficking, as well as those who are committing these crimes.

I am pleased to see this underlying bill recognizes this need, especially for local law enforcement, health providers, and first responders.

The bill, however, fails to recognize the important role our nation’s ports of entry play in our nation’s domestic and international transportation system and the opportunity they provide for human trafficking.

This is why I filed an amendment to this legislation to ensure that victims of human trafficking and perpetrators of this crime will not be able to pass through such places without additional law enforcement awareness. 

My amendment simply requires the Department of Homeland Security to train TSA, CBP, and other relevant department personnel to effectively deter, detect, and disrupt human trafficking. 

Recognizing the different needs of states and the critical role of local law enforcement in combatting human trafficking, it also allows DHS to provide training materials to any state, local, or tribal government or private organization in order to establish a human trafficking awareness training program.

Finally, this amendment requires DHS to keep records of the number of human trafficking cases reported or confirmed and report these numbers annually to Congress.  That way, we can measure progress in our efforts to end human trafficking. 

Instead of creating another layer of bureaucracy, my amendment simply complements and enhances the current efforts by DHS to equip its personnel with effective strategies to combat human trafficking at our nation’s ports of entry and other high-risk areas. 

Earlier this year, I was pleased to see similar legislation pass the House of Representatives with unanimous support.

I think most of us can agree that the issue of human trafficking is not a partisan issue; it’s a human rights issue.  Whether you’re a parent, a sibling, a child, or a relative, this issue is real.

This is why I was so pleased to see this chamber come together in a bipartisan manner to bring this bill to the floor.

Once again, I only hope that we can come together and move this debate forward. 

As I tell Nevadans back home, I came to Washington, DC to work.  I work with Republicans and I work with Democrats. 

There are issues that we may at times have to agree to disagree on, but moving forward on a bipartisan bill like this one should not be one of them. 

We need to do all that we can to end this disgraceful and disgusting crime once and for all. 

We should move forward in providing much needed help to these victims – including children. 

Now there is more work to do on this bill and ways to make it a better product through the amendment process, but we should be moving forward instead of stalling out. 

I hope that I have the opportunity to call up my amendment and would urge my colleagues to support my amendment so we can ensure that DHS personnel are properly trained to prevent the serious threat of human trafficking.

Help is almost there for these victims.  I hope that we can come to a resolution today to move forward on this bill.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.

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(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) spoke at the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs hearing titled, “Legislative Presentation of Veterans of Foreign Wars,” introducing fellow Nevadan and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Commander John Stroud.  Following the introduction, Heller asked Commander Stroud about his assessment of the care provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs, as well as specific issues facing Nevada veterans.

REMARKS AS PREPARED:

Thank you Chairmen and Ranking Members. I’m honored to have this opportunity to introduce Commander John Stroud today.  He has been a friend to me and to my office for many years. 

In fact, I have this poker chip he gave me in 2012 to prove it. Only in Nevada would you have a Challenge Coin in the form of a poker chip.

It is very fitting that John was chosen to be the Commander-in-Chief for the Veterans of Foreign Wars. 

Since its inception in 1899, the VFW has served many different purposes for veterans. 

While it is most known for advocating for veterans, a VFW post is also a place for members to foster friendship with others who served.

In a state like Nevada, this solidarity among the veteran community rings true.   

And within this tight knit Nevada veteran community, Commander Stroud has been one of our most outspoken advocates.

I cannot thank him enough for all that he has done from the start of his service in the U.S. military to today.

Commander Stroud first began his military career in the U.S. Air Force, serving for 21 years, from 1976-1997.  This service included a tour in Korea with the 51st Fighter Wing at Osan Air Base, where he was a Flight Operations Superintendent.

During Commander Stroud’s time in the military, he received:

  • Four Meritorious Service Medals
  • Three Air Force Achievement Medals
  • The Korea Defense Service Medal; and
  • The National Defense Service Medal.

But like all of the VFW members we see here today, his service to our country and his fellow service members was not over after his 20 years.

In 1996, Commander Stroud joined the VFW in Las Vegas, and later Hawthorne, Nevada.

And not only did he embrace the camaraderie of joining a post, but he also dedicated himself to serving the VFW in many leadership positions, including Nevada Department Commander from 2006 to 2007.

Commander Stroud has also served on numerous National Committees, including Chairman of the National Veterans Service Committee.  He is also a Triple Crown All American Commander Award recipient.

I also want to acknowledge an important person here today—the one who has had to deal with the Commander’s difficult travel schedule—his wife Mary.

Mary has been a committed member of the VFW’s Ladies Auxiliary, which also works to serve our nation’s veterans.

Thank you again Commander Stroud for your service to our nation as a veteran, and as Commander-in-Chief for the VFW.

I look forward to your testimony on how this Committee and Congress can do better to serve America’s brave men and women in the Armed Forces.

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(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) chaired the Senate Committee on Finance hearing titled, “Fairness in Taxation.”  More specifically, Heller voiced his concern over the complexity and cost of the current tax code and questioned the panel about what constitutes fairness in taxation.

(Washington, DC) – Today, United States Senator Dean Heller spoke at the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs hearing titled, “Legislative Presentation of Disabled American Veterans.”  More specifically, Heller thanked the witnesses from the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) for their hard work in helping veterans after returning home. Earlier today, Heller received the first-ever DAV Outstanding Senate Legislator of the Year award for 2014.

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