Nevadans split on raising federal government borrowing limit

WASHINGTON — On television Tuesday evening, Sen. Dean Heller said it would do little good to drag out a pending bill raising the government’s $17.2 trillion limit on borrowing.

Asked on CNN’s “Crossfire” about an attempt by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, to filibuster the debt bill, Heller said he didn’t think it would be right.

“Because at the end of the day we are going to pass a clean debt ceiling increase with Ted’s or without Ted’s support, with my support or without my support,” the Nevada Republican said.

On Wednesday, the Senate ended up voting without Heller’s support to suspend the debt limit, avoiding default and allowing the government to borrow regularly, until March 15, 2015. He was on the short end of a 55-43 vote on a “clean” debt bill that did not include any budget cuts or policy changes.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., voted for the debt bill and applauded its passage after House Republican leaders this week could not find consensus among their caucus to demand new cuts on spending or other concessions — like approval of the Keystone XL pipeline — in return for GOP votes on the controversial measure.

Finally, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, allowed a vote on a “clean” debt bill, and it passed 221-201 on Tuesday night.

“It is encouraging that some of my Republican colleagues seem to be regaining their grip on sanity this week,” Reid said.

Heller said his vote reflected frustration at an inability by Congress to get spending under control.

“Our nation is facing $17 trillion in debt with nothing but more spending in our future,” Heller said in a statement. “Congress cannot continue to consistently increase our nation’s debt without any conditions or any effort to become fiscally responsible.”

Reps. Dina Titus and Steven Horsford, both D-Nev,, voted for the debt bill in the House, while Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., voted against it. Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., remains in Nevada following eye surgery and did not vote.

“I opposed this increase because raising our debt limit without making even modest reductions to spending levels is irresponsible,” Heck said.

Democrats said allowing more government borrowing to pay bills will avert financial calamity. Titus said a default would have had “disastrous consequences.”

“Raising the debt ceiling protects jobs, avoids increases in mortgage interest rates, and prevents a downturn in the stock market that would devastate 401k and retirement savings,” Horsford said.

Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at STetreault@stephensmedia.com or 202-783-1760. Follow him on Twitter @STetreaultDC.