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Heller gets new House panel slot

WASHINGTON — Republicans on Thursday appointed Rep. Dean Heller of Nevada to the House committee that handles banking, insurance and community development issues.

Heller said his appointment to the Financial Services Committee will give him a voice on bills addressing the subprime mortgage loan crisis that has shaken the economy in Nevada and elsewhere.

“It is a good committee for me to be on right now with this issue before us,” said Heller, a former stockbroker and banking consultant.

Because Financial Services is considered a prominent “exclusive” committee, Heller was required to drop other assignments. He gave up the Natural Resources, Small Business, and Education and Labor committees.

Heller said he was refused a waiver to continue on the Natural Resources Committee, where House members representing rural Nevada customarily have been influential. The panel manages legislation on public land, water, wilderness, American Indians, mining and endangered species bills focused on the West.

Heller, who is in his first term, said he will keep his membership in the House Western Caucus that monitors those issues, and plans to renew his bid for the resources committee in the next Congress.

He added that the work of the Financial Services Committee impacts commodities markets for gold and other metals harvested in Nevada.

It is considered rare for a House freshman to be named to an exclusive committee. Heller replaced Rep. Richard Baker of Louisiana, who left Congress to lead a hedge fund association.

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