WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Dean Heller, R-Nev., issued this statement after the Senate utilized the “nuclear option,” which rids the Senate minority of long-standing rights and requires only a simple majority for some Senate votes:
“This is a sad day for the United States Senate, and a scary day for Nevada. While today we are discussing nominations, what assurances are there that today’s changes will not apply to future legislation?
“The Nevada delegation has prevented Yucca Mountain from moving forward, a policy that is already the law of the land. We have been able to accomplish this using every arrow in our quiver. When you are from a small state, you have to rely on every tool in your toolbox to protect yourself.
“Now, the opening of Yucca Mountain is a renewed risk. It’s clear that today’s actions by the Senate have made Nevada even more vulnerable to the will of the majority,” said Senator Dean Heller.
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Now that the 60-vote threshold for nominations is removed, the same principle could apply elsewhere with legislation. Without a 60-vote threshold, the current policies towards Yucca Mountain could be revisited.
In June, Senator Heller expressed his concerns about the effect of removing the 60-vote threshold on small states like Nevada, and particularly the Yucca Mountain project.
Later that week, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) spoke on the Senate floor indicating that opening Yucca Mountain would be a top priority once the 60 vote threshold is removed, saying that “a vote to end the filibuster is a vote to complete Yucca Mountain.”