Nevada NewsMakers

News - September 12, 2018 - by Ray Hagar

By Ray Hagar
Nevada Newsmakers

U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-NV, is willing to make a bet on the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

"I'm going to put $100 down because that is what we do in Nevada and bet that Kavanaugh is a Supreme Court Justice by the end of the month," Heller said Wednesday on Nevada Newsmakers.

Heller laid down a timeline to back up his bet of the end-of-September confirmation.

"We'll have a week of hearings then we will have a markup in the same committee and that will go on for a few days," Heller said. "And then, we will probably have a week of discussion on the Senate floor in the third or fourth week in September. But by the end of that discussion, there will be a vote."

Heller contends there could a a slight hiccup in Kavanaugh's road to confirmation but was confident the confirmation process would not continue past the midterm elections in November.

"If there is a delay, it may get delayed into October," Heller said. "But I can't imagine it getting past the election. In fact, I think we have been guaranteed a vote before the election. So I am going to guess that it will happen (confirmation) by the end of the month."

Heller took a line from Bob Woodward's new book about the Trump Administration, "Fear," in describing the circus atmosphere of the Kavanaugh hearings. Woodward wrote Trump's Chief of Staff John Kelly referred to the Trump White House as "crazy town." Heller used the word to describe the confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court nominee.

"Well, it is crazy town and you are seeing this and all of this is being orchestrated," Heller said. "I heard one senator say that 30 years ago, this would have been a unanimous vote. Frankly, there is a bipartisan group of lawyers out there with the American Bar Association that support this guy and have given him the highest ratings there are."

Recently, the ABA gave Kavanaugh it's highest possible ranking. The president's previous Supreme Court nominee, Justice Neil Gorsuch, also received this ranking.

"Some have argued that he (Kavanaugh) is one of the best legal minds to come before the U.S. Senate in a generation and it is just too bad to see this dog-and-pony show that is going on," Heller said.

"By the way, it has nothing to do with Kavanaugh," Heller said of the circus. "It is all about 2020 presidential politics and that is what we are seeing out there today."

Speaking of Gen. Kelly, Heller said he did not believe Woodward quoted Trump's chief of staff correctly in "Fear" when he wrote that Kelly also called Trump an "idiot" and that Kelly said, "he (Trump) has gone off the rails."

"I know John Kelly and John Kelly is as honest as the day is long and if he is saying the quotes that reflect on him are wrong, then they are wrong," Heller said. "So it is sad they have a bunch of quotes in a book that are, sadly, inaccurate."

Heller also again used Woodward's "crazy town" reference in describing Washington D.C. under previous and current administrations.

"They called it crazy town and it is crazy town," Heller said. "It was crazy town under Bush and it was crazy town under Obama and it is still crazy town. So nothing has changed."

He was critical of Woodward for focusing on the sensational aspects of the Trump administration while ignoring its accomplishments.

"No doubt, this is an interesting president," Heller said. "In my opinion, 20 percent of it is all media and media driven. And with the 80 percent, I think he gets down to business, whether that has to do with the economy, trade, immigration or some of these other issues. But everybody is stuck on the 20 percent. Nobody wants to write a book about the 80 percent, what this president has accomplished. Woodward is no different."

Heller is bracing for more negative books about Trump.

"There will be 10 more just like it because that is what the media does -- they gang up," Heller said. "They will talk about the 20 percent that is unique about this particular president."

On the immigration issue, Heller blamed the House of Representatives for the lack of legislation in Congress. Heller was Nevada's 2nd U.S. House District representative for 2007 to 2011.

"You know me. I am the 5th most bipartisan member of the U.S. Senate," Heller said.

"I hate to point fingers and we do a lot of that in Washington D.C. Everybody points fingers," he said.

"But I think the United States Senate would sign a bill that could get out of the House of Representatives," he said. "Our problem is that we can't get a bill out of the House of Representatives -- even bills that the president supports, which are pretty aggressive.

House members have tried all angles on immigration and all have come up short, Heller said.

"They have tried conservative reform. They have tried moderate reform. They have tried liberal reform," Heller said about the U.S. House members. "You can't get anything that has anything to do with immigration reform out of the House of Representatives.

"And I would share this with you: If in fact the House could actually get their act together and pass a piece of legislation, with or without the president's support, it would pass the United States Senate. And I think in this case it probably would have the president's support."

Heller also praised Trump for lighting a fire under Congress to pass a federal budget.

"The reason it is so busy (in Congress) is because of the President of the United States," Heller said. "He said he would not sign another omnibus (spending) bill. So we are, for the first time in 30 years, actively getting the budget done, which by the way, is very good news.

Heller mentioned his "no budget, no pay" bill which he has been trying to get passed in Congress. The bill would require Congress to pass a budget and all appropriations bills in order to receive paychecks.

"As you know, I have had legislation that said 'no budget, no pay' for the past five or six years and still submit that legislation for every one of these appropriation bills," Heller said. "I think we ought to be doing a budget. We ought to be doing it the right way, as you do, as I do, as businesses do, as states do and as counties do. Everybody passes a budget except the federal government, who hasn't done it for the past 30 years.

"We are finally doing it," Heller said. "And the reason we are doing it is because the President said, 'If you don't, I will shut the government down. I will not sign another omnibus.'"