Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., is in a political fight with Republicans over a nuclear waste repository, which could provide Heller with an opportunity to show his independence to voters, The Hill reported.
Heller is the only Republican senator running for reelection in the 2018 midterms in a state that 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton won, the report noted.
The senator aims to show that he would stand up for his home state against reopening the nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, 90 miles outside Las Vegas.
“Heller needs to show he’s been an effective senator,” said political commentator John Ralston, The Hill reported.
“The Yucca Mountain proposal poses significant health and safety risks and potentially catastrophic financial risks that must be addressed before — and not after — the proposal moves forward, should it move forward at all,” Heller wrote in a letter to Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the senior Democrat on the Energy and Water panel, The Hill reported.
The Nevada senator said that in the previous two fiscal years, he defeated efforts to restart the licensing process for the facility, which closed in 2011. “They put it in ’17, I took it out. They put in in ’18, I took it out… they keep putting it in the budget. The House approves it. It comes over here and I take it out,” said Heller, The Hill reported.
Secretary of Energy Rick Perry and White House budget director Mick Mulvaney have faced off with Heller over the issue. “I will take it out,” if Mulvaney attempts to push the measure to license the repository,” Heller told Mulvaney, The Hill reported.
Forty percent of voters in Nevada support Heller, while 39 percent support his Democratic opponent, Rep. Jacky Rosen, a Nevada Independent/Mellman Group poll reported Wednesday.
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