Sens. Harry Reid and Dean Heller may have had breakfast together — chaperoned by Gov. Brian Sandoval — but it’s not clear that a beautiful friendship is developing between the two. Today, they clashed again over an old issue, an Internet poker bill stalled in the Senate.
Asked by reporters why the Internet poker bill hasn’t moved, Reid replied, “Republicans.” (Read all about it in a story by Stephens Media Washington Bureau writer Peter Urban.)
Told of Reid’s comments, Heller replied with a quip of his own: “That’s his answer to everything — blame Republicans.”
Then again, Reid claims to have the votes in place on the Democratic side to move the bill, which would outlaw all online gambling except for poker, and award licenses in a way that would benefit Nevada casino operators. He and Heller clashed before the election when Reid said Heller had been unable to produce any of the Republican votes necessary to get a bill passed.
At the time, in a tense exchange of letters, Heller said it would be better to let the House of Representatives produce legislation that could then be modified in the Senate. But in Urban’s story today, Heller seems to be searching for GOP votes to move a Senate bill. “I am beating the bushes,” Heller said.
He may have an uphill task. While there’s plenty of support in Congress for outlawing Internet gambling outright, carving out a poker exception may be a tough task. Reid has been working with Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl on the bill, but other that Kyl and Heller, Republican votes are scarce.
Not only that, but Stephens Media Washington Bureau’s Steve Tetreault reported last week that the present version of the Reid-Kyl bill — which would penalize companies that engaged in illegal Internet poker operations — may be vulnerable to constitutional challenges.
Maybe Reid and Heller can work it out at this week’s breakfast?