U.S. Senator Dean Heller (R) has started the 115th Congress on an interesting note. Thus far, he’s voted in line with President Donald Trump’s agenda. Yet so far, he’s made sparse public appearances in his home state.
Several constituents asked Senator Heller’s Las Vegas staff for a public town hall during a special Valentine’s Day #ResistTrumpTuesday.
Staffer Jack Finn only told them they were “working on it.”
Senator Heller was scheduled to appear in Southern Nevada today to answer constituents’ questions. The catch: He appeared at a private Las Vegas Latin Chamber of Commerce luncheon. The Latin Chamber charged a $50 entry fee for non-members (and $45 for members).
About 125 protesters gathered outside the Suncoast Casino near Summerlin to decry Heller copying other Members of Congress in limiting exposure to constituents. Inside, Latin Chamber attendees learned that Senator Heller couldn’t attend. Instead, he sent them a video message.
The video message mentioned nothing about his vote to confirm Scott Pruitt as EPA Secretary. The video failed to mention Heller’s still perfect 100% record in confirming Trump’s Cabinet Nominees. The video also didn’t directly mention Trump’s deportation raids…
But Heller used this video to announce his support for the Bridge Act.
The Bridge Act is a bipartisan bill to provide deportation relief for DREAMers who are currently protected under DACA. The Trump Administration will likely allow DACA work permits issued by the Obama Administration to expire. Therefore, the bipartisan group of Senators led by Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) and Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) aim to provide continued deportation relief regardless of what Trump decides to do to DACA. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D) has not only indicated support for protecting DREAMers, but is also leading the charge on legislation to rescind Trump’s deportation force executive order.
A small group of progressive activists spoke at the end of Heller’s pre-recorded video. They thanked Heller for cosponsoring the Bridge Act, but also asked him to do more. One of those constituents, Maria, shared her heartbreaking story of losing a nephew who tried to cross the U.S.-Mexico Border to reunite with the family. Maria has also seen two of her sisters deported. Two other constituents wanted to ask Heller about the Affordable Care Act and Planned Parenthood health care services. They were not part of the Latin Chamber’s program, but Chamber leaders did thank them for being polite about it.
American Bridge has already launched a TV ad attacking Heller’s apparent hiding from constituents. Not only has Heller not held any town halls since the 115th Congress began, but his office’s phone lines have also been jammed multiple occasions.
For many Nevadans, Senator Heller has been hard to reach this year. Will this reclusive pattern continue? In his pre-recorded video, Heller announced he will take part in a trip to the U.S.-Mexico Border next week. It’s unclear whether this will affect his scheduled appearance with Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Carson City) at the Carson City Chamber of Commerce luncheon this Wednesday.