Nevada's senators split on debt vote; neither is happy

WASHINGTON -- While cheering the end of the nation's debt crisis, neither Nevada senator was enthusiastic about the trade-offs that enabled the debt ceiling to be raised while starting to carry out as much as $2.5 trillion in spending cuts and other savings over the next 10 years.

Democratic Sen. Harry Reid voted for the bill but stressed it was an imperfect compromise. He said he hoped a special committee established by the measure will recommend ways to make it fairer.

Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., voted against the bill. He maintained it was not strong enough to force long-range reforms in taxes and entitlement programs that have an effect on growth.

"We will be standing here a year from now having this same discussion," he said.

Reid, the Senate majority leader, said the deal was a bit unfair since an initial $1 trillion in deficit reduction will be composed of spending cuts and not new taxes or other revenue-raisers.

"The American people are not impressed with the no new revenue," Reid said in a speech. "The vast majority of Democrats, independents and Republicans thinks this arrangement we've just done is unfair because the richest of the rich have contributed nothing. The burden of what is taking place is on the middle class and the poor."

Reid said he was hopeful the 12-member committee that will be created to recommend further deficit reduction will focus on "millionaires, billionaires, corporate jet owners, people who have yachts that get tax benefits, oil companies that get these huge subsidies."

Heller said Congress "shied away from making the tough decisions."

"I just saw in this bill no strategy," Heller said. He said he had voted earlier for GOP proposals that included stronger provisions for a balanced budget constitutional amendment.

Heller said he would have also preferred the $4 trillion "grand bargain" that President Barack Obama was negotiating with House Speaker John Boehner before it collapsed.

"I wanted the big deal," Heller said. "A big deal would have had tax reform" that might have reduced marginal rates for individuals and businesses, he said.

Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at or 202-783-1760.