Reid: 'We Are a Nation of Laws, Not of Men and Women'

Susan Jones | April 22, 2014 | 7:54am EDT
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The Bundy family and their supporters rally against the Bureau of Land Management near Bunkerville, Nev. on April 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Las Vegas Review-Journal, Jason Bean)

( - It may not be tomorrow, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) says "something will happen" to force a Nevada rancher to obey a court order to stop grazing his cattle on federal land and pay his grazing fees.

"It's obvious that you can't just walk away from this," Reid said in an April 18 interview with a Nevada's KSNV-TV News 3 program “What’s Your Point?” 

"You can't have a law that is -- we're a nation of laws, not of men and women," he said.

Reid noted that most cattlemen pay their taxes, pay their fees, and follow the law, but he said rancher Cliven Bundy didn't do any of those things.

Reid again denounced the 600 people who came to Bundy's ranch, armed with "sniper rifles" and "assault rifles," to defend the him and his family.

"So 600 people -- if there were ever an example of people who were domestic violent terrorist wannabes, these were the guys. And I think that we should call it that way."  

Reid made it clear that he wasn't calling the Bundys domestic terrorists. "I said the people that came there were...And I said, if these people think they're patriots, they're not...If they're patriots, we're in trouble."

Appearing on the program with Reid, Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) called Bundy and his supporters "patriots," noting that there were veterans, Boy Scouts, even grandparents at the protest.

Heller said he was more troubled by the Bureau of Land Management "coming in with a paramilitary army" to round up the Bundy's cattle. "And to have your own government with sniper lenses on you made a lot of people very uncomfortable."

Heller is calling for congressional hearings on the standoff. He says the crux of the problem is the fact that the federal government owns 85 percent of Nevada lands, and he also expressed concern about armed wing of the government -- "200 armed men" moving on private citizens.

"I want to find out who's accountable for this," Heller said. "I hope someone at the BLM feels some accountability on exactly what happened, and I fear that there will be no answer to that question."

Heller noted that in the last 30 years, cattlemen have lost over half the rangeland on which their cattle can graze.

"That's because of climate change," Reid cut in. "We have wildfires that have decimated cowboy land."

Heller said rangeland burns precisely because cattle don't graze. Wait until the sage grouse is listed as an endangered species, Heller added. "I tell you, every cattleman here knows that...their lifespan of their occupation is short. Wait 'til the sagegrouse comes."

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