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GOP’s retreat divides Nevada’s delegation

WASHINGTON — On Monday, an outspoken Rep. Joe Heck railed against extending Social Security payroll tax cuts for only two months, calling it patchwork and "haphazard."

On Thursday, Heck and other Republicans were told they had to accept just such a deal after they were being pounded by Democrats, the White House and a growing number of colleagues for risking a cutoff of tax and unemployment benefits on Jan. 1.

Heck said he was not happy. Neither was Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., who also had voted to reject the stopgap solution in favor of negotiating a full-year package that critics said was unrealistic to expect at the height of the holidays.

"My top concern all along was trying to get a yearlong extension for Nevadans, and we still don’t have it," Heck said. "It seems in typical Washington fashion politics trumped out doing the right thing.

"This type of procrastination is a hallmark of a broken government," Heck said. "If not now, then when do we fix this problem?"

Amodei said that while he is glad nobody will lose money from their paychecks or jobless payments, "I am disappointed we have done nothing to provide resolution" on a range of issues that Republicans wanted to negotiate.

"If you are a political sport person, you are probably high-fiving right now, and if you are a policy responsibility person, you are looking for a shot of tequila," he said.

Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., who had voted for the interim tax break, said the issue "should have been a no-brainer," and Republicans should have accepted the measure that had passed the Senate with broad support.

"This is one more example of why Washington doesn’t work," she said. "The middle class should not be a bargaining chip for D.C. political games."

On that, Berkley was in rare agreement with Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., who had urged recalcitrant House Republicans to take the short-term deal while continuing to negotiate a longer one. "Extending the payroll tax and unemployment insurance will benefit Nevadans greatly," Heller said. "Now that Congress has moved beyond this impasse, we can work on a yearlong extension."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada forced House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to back down by vowing not to negotiate — until pressure led Boehner to cave.

"I am grateful that the voices of reason have prevailed," Reid said.

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