Lombardo’s law enforcement background highlighted in new PAC ad blitz

Republican gubernatorial candidate and Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo is getting a boost through a new political action committee’s significant, six-figure advertising blitz touting his law enforcement bonafides.

The ad, paid for by Better Nevada PAC, juxtaposes footage of “radical, anti-police riots” in other cities during protests against police brutality last year with idyllic footage of Lombardo talking and walking through suburban parks and neighborhoods.

“Joe Lombardo made our rights as law-abiding citizens his first priority. He's a conservative leader, not a follower,” the ad states. “Good luck defunding the police with Sheriff Joe Lombardo as our next governor.”

Nevada, and specifically Las Vegas and Reno, saw heated and at times violent protests against police brutality in the immediate aftermath of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis — more than two dozen police were injured (including the paralyzation of Shay Mikalonis) while dozens more protesters were arrested or forcibly dispersed from protest areas. More than 24 businesses in downtown Las Vegas were damaged by vandalism, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The ads are produced and paid for by Better Nevada PAC, a political action committee registered last month that has not yet filed any campaign finance reports with the secretary of state’s office (the deadline to do so comes at the end of the calendar year). Nevada law allows state-based political action committees to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money.

According to a spending summary shared with The Nevada Independent, the group will spend north of $171,000 combined through ads placed on broadcast, cable and radio platforms primarily in the Reno and Las Vegas media markets.Lombardo, who officially launched his gubernatorial campaign in late June, is part of a potentially crowded Republican primary for the right to face off against incumbent Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak.

Though the candidate filing period doesn’t open until March, several major candidates who have already jumped in the race include North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee, Reno attorney Joey Gilbert and businessman Guy Nohra. Former U.S. Sen. Dean Heller and Rep. Mark Amodei are also weighing possible gubernatorial bids.

Indy DC Download: Congressional delegation pushes to extend sunsetting downwinders law

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Nevada’s congressional delegation is looking at ways to extend an expiring law that provides compensation to those exposed to radiation from nuclear tests in Nevada.  

The Radiation Compensation Exposure Act (RECA) expires on July 11, 2022. The law, enacted in 1990, provides $50,000 to persons who developed certain cancers and were in parts of Nevada near the Nevada Test Site, now known as the Nevada National Security Site, during nuclear testing.

Those areas include Eureka, Lander, Lincoln, Nye and White Pine Counties. It also covers specific areas of northern Clark County. 

“It’s not a mission accomplished thing,” said Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV), who is optimistic the law can be extended before it expires. 

In an interview, he suggested that the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the annual military policy bill, is the likeliest vehicle to continue the compensation program.

Amodei's comments came as the House Armed Services Committee approved its version of the NDAA, including adding $24 billion to President Joe Biden's $415 billion budget request. 

Rep. Steven Horsford (D-NV), a member of the military policy panel, backed the Republican amendment to add the funding because it would benefit Nevada’s military posts. 

“In total, the fiscal year 2022 defense budget will make our military stronger, safer, and more responsive to the needs of our servicemembers,” Horsford said in a release following the passage of the NDAA.

The House panel's debate saw several amendments critical of Biden for the nation's tumultuous withdrawal from Afghanistan. Congressional Democrats with tough re-election races next year, including Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), have sought to take a harder line with the administration as Republicans have ramped up the criticism of Biden and, by extension, Democrats. 

With both the full House and Senate in recess, no votes floor votes were taken.

RECA

Amodei said he is looking at supporting legislation that would expand the areas covered by the law. 

“It’s a statewide issue,” Amodei said, adding that the fallout from nuclear tests likely contaminated the food supply.

A bill introduced by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) would include Mohave County, just to the east of the state's southern tip and all of Clark County. The legislation also would extend the RECA trust fund for five more years. 

Rep. Greg Stanton (D-AZ) has a similar bill that is cosponsored by Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV) and Rep. Susie Lee (D-NV). The two were the only cosponsors listed for the measure.

Horsford’s office said he is planning to cosponsor legislation that has yet to be introduced. 

In the Senate, Cortez Masto and Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) also support extending the law.

According to her office, Cortez Masto sees the NDAA and the budget reconciliation package as two possible vehicles. The reconciliation bill is currently being drafted and would carry parts of the Democratic agenda, such as providing family and medical leave, that Republicans would not support.

Rosen is a cosponsor of legislation introduced by Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) to extend the benefits to those in Mohave and Clark Counties. 

The bill would “take an important step to extend the geographic boundaries of areas eligible for compensation,” Rosen said in a statement provided by her office. 

Benefits under RECA are also available to certain uranium miners, mill workers and ore transporters who worked in the uranium industry between 1942 and 1971, when the federal government stopped its uranium procurement for the atomic weapons program, according to Amodei's office.

Along with the $50,000 one-time payment for individuals residing or working "downwind" of the Nevada Test Site, workers participating in atmospheric nuclear weapons tests that developed certain cancers are eligible for a single $75,000 payment and uranium miners, millers and ore transporters who develop particular cancers can receive a one-time $100,000 payment. 

RECA has awarded over $2.4 billion in benefits to more than 37,000 claimants since its inception in 1990.

According to the Atomic Heritage Foundation, the federal government conducted 1,021 nuclear tests at the test site between 1951 and 1992. Of the tests, 100 were atmospheric, and 921 were underground. Test facilities for nuclear rocket and ramjet engines were also constructed and used from the late 1950s to the early 1970s.

NDAA

The committee approved the NDAA on a 57-to-two vote after a roughly 16-hour markup that began Wednesday morning.

Horsford touted provisions in the measure for Nevada, including $20 million for the planning and design of a dormitory at Nellis Air Force Base.

“This dormitory is badly needed to address the housing shortfall currently faced by young Airmen, who are often forced to live off base,” Horsford said. 

Cortez Masto and Rosen have sought $7.2 million for the project in the annual  military construction appropriations bill. 

The MQ-9 Reapers program, which manages remotely piloted drone aircraft, many stationed at and operated from Creech Air Force Base, received $158 million for procurement, $129.7 million for modernization and $103 million for research and development. The program got another $53 million for maintenance.

Horsford was among the 14 Democrats on the committee to back the Republican amendment adding the $24 billion to the Pentagon budget. The amendment passed 42 to 17. The Senate Armed Services Committee approved a similar provision in its version of the bill in July.

“The $23.9 billion funding increase in the FY 2022 defense budget will help us keep pace with China and maintain our counterterrorism efforts around the world,” he said, adding that it would  provide direct benefits to his district, including beefing up the MQ-9 program.

Horsford voted for an amendment seeking a report on why the military closed Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, which could have aided with evacuation.

He also voted for an amendment requiring an interagency report detailing that the withdrawal will not impede the nation's counterterrorism mission or endanger national security. 

Horsford also delivered a speech that reflected a tough stance on how the administration handled the withdrawal but that praised the administration for ending the war.

“I wholeheartedly supported President Biden's courageous decision to end our mission in Afghanistan,” Horsford said. “In doing so he pulled thousands of our troops out of harm's way and did what previous administrations failed to do.”

“However, like many I was horrified by the tragic displays of desperation we witnessed in the final weeks of our mission,” he continued. “There is no question that in the final stages of this conflict we failed to fully uphold our moral obligations to our citizens and allies still stranded in Afghanistan.” 

Democrats seek distance

Horsford’s comments came as Cortez Masto marked the nation’s withdrawal from Afghanistan after a 20-year presence in the Middle Eastern country by calling on Biden’s administration to work with Congress to “get Americans and our Afghan allies out of Afghanistan and out of harm's way.”

Her comments reflect a position that congressional Democrats facing tough re-election campaigns are increasingly taking to try to distance themselves from Biden and his sagging poll numbers, according to Axios

According to an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll released Thursday, Biden’s approval rating fell to 46 percent, the lowest since he took office and six points below a July poll

Thursday’s poll also showed that Biden is losing independents. The share of independents that approve of the job Biden is doing fell to 36 percent from 46 percent in July.

That could be unwelcome news for Cortez Masto, as Nevada voter registration is trending more nonpartisan. Recently, the share of non-major party voters, 34.8 percent, overtook Democrats and Republicans in the state, at 34.78 percent and 30.4 percent, respectively.

Representing a state former President Donald Trump lost by two percentage points, Cortez Masto is a target for the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), Senate Republicans’ campaign arm, who are seeking to win back the majority. The Senate is currently split 50-50 between the parties.

The NRSC has called on Cortez Masto to take a harder position against Biden for the withdrawal, which saw 13 American soldiers killed on a suicide attack outside Kabul airport.

Her opponent, former Attorney General Adam Laxalt, an Iraq war veteran, wrote an op-ed Friday in The Washington Examiner that argued for a change in the makeup of Congress to hold Biden accountable.  

“It's time for investigations, resignations, and real change,” Laxalt wrote. “It's time to fire Democratic leadership in Congress so we can hold this administration accountable for its failure.” 

Cortez Masto’s campaign pointed to comments she’s made that have been critical of the administration for the chaotic withdrawal.

“I’ve never seen a plan,” Cortez Masto told KSNV in Las Vegas in August. “I asked the Trump administration for a plan — never got anything. I asked this administration — never received anything. And so, yeah, I do have questions. What happened?” 

For a full rundown of the measures the delegates supported or opposed this week, check out The Nevada Independent’s congressional vote tracker and other information below.

Indy DC Download: House Democrats pass voting rights bill with an uncertain Senate future as they launch into drafting their $3.5 trillion social programs package

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Nevada’s House representatives split along party lines as the chamber approved voting rights legislation and a budget outline requiring Congress to write a $3.5 trillion bill to strengthen social safety net programs.

All Democrats supported the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which passed 219 to 212 on Tuesday. The measure received no Republican votes.

The bill was named in honor of the late Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), who participated in the historic 1965 Selma, Alabama-to-Montgomery marches. Lewis was among those protesting state voting rules designed to keep African-Americans participating. The marchers were brutally beaten by state and local law enforcement, and Lewis was almost killed.

House action on voting rights came after the House approved the budget resolution Monday. The measure provided instructions to congressional committees to begin drafting the $3.5 trillion package made up of a series of Democratic policy priorities, including giving permanent status for those receiving Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and participants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

No Republicans voted for the budget plan, approved 220 to 212, which is typically drafted by the majority party to highlight its priorities. 

The budget also provides the bill with protection from a filibuster in the Senate under what is known as the reconciliation process. Once passed by the House, the reconciliation measure would only need a simple majority to pass the Senate rather than the 60 votes it usually takes to overcome a filibuster.

The House’s short, two-day voting session, which brought lawmakers back to Washington from the August recess, was spurred by Senate approval of the budget and the Senate’s $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill last week. 

Voting rights

In a recent interview, Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV) said he opposed the voting rights measure because it would give the federal government more control over elections, which states presently administer.

He cited the state law signed by Gov. Steve Sisolak in June to permanently expand mail voting and send all active registered voters a mail ballot starting in the 2022 election.

“I didn't like that,” Amodei said, adding that he had concerns over a lack of safeguards against the possibility of fraud.

“But...the Constitution says states get to make those rules,” Amodei continued. “And as long as they're not violating something else in the Constitution, then they're free to make it.”  

He also argued that the move is an effort by Democrats to give themselves an advantage in 2022 because the bill “makes the [U.S.] attorney general basically the rules keeper for all things voting.”

Rep. Steven Horsford (D-NV) countered that the bill is needed because of a GOP-led push in at least 18 states to change voting rules that could make it more difficult to vote

“It really has to be done right now, because you have states that are passing laws to make it harder,” Horsford said in an interview this week. 

Horsford also cited Congress’ authority under the Constitution to prevent voter disenfranchisement. He especially noted Congress' constitutional claim on regulating how elections are run, even though states have traditionally exercised primary responsibility for the administration of elections for both federal and state offices.

The bill is designed to restore part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which required states with a history of discriminatory election practices to clear any changes to election procedures with the Department of Justice (DOJ).  

In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed with Shelby County, Alabama that, 50 years after enactment of the law, DOJ oversight of elections was no longer needed. 

The measure would reinstate the preclearance provision and apply it to all 50 states for certain election practices, including imposing stricter voter ID requirements, reducing the number of polling locations or polling hours and curtailing the availability of non-English language voting materials. 

The bill also would apply a decade-long preclearance requirement to states with 15 or more violations over the past 25 years or to states that have committed 10 violations where at least one was statewide.

Despite House approval, the voting bill is not expected to pass the Senate, split 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats. The measure would need 10 Republicans to overcome a filibuster, which is not likely. 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said he does not back the bill.

“What this rewrite of it does is grant to the Justice Department almost total ability to determine the voting systems of every state in America,” McConnell said, adding that the voting rights law is still intact and provides sufficient protections despite the Shelby County decision.

Budget  

Democrats plan to finish drafting the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package by Sept. 15, and House and Senate Committees are doing preliminary work.

Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) told reporters that his committee, which will write the tax provisions of the package, would likely start its markup Sept. 9 and spill over into the following week. 

Horsford, a member of the Ways and Means panel, and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), who serves on the Finance Committee, will help develop the tax portion of the package, including keeping President Joe Biden's pledge not to raise taxes on those making less than $400,000 a year.

They also will help determine whether the $3.5 trillion price tag remains, which could be the locus of the next fight among Democrats.

Progressive firebrand Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) told Politico that he does not intend to negotiate on the topline figure. Sanders' position sets up a standoff with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), both outspoken moderates who have argued for a smaller package. 

Their comments came after a group of 10 House moderate Democrats held up consideration of the budget resolution over a demand that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) immediately hold a vote on the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill approved by the Senate recently.

Knowing she could afford to lose no more than three Democrats and still pass the budget, the speaker defused the situation by promising a vote on the bipartisan bill by Sept. 27. 

She also agreed that the House and Senate would iron out any differences before the bill comes to the floor, which moderates believe will lead to lowering the cost.

“We said that whatever the House votes [on] will be something that the Senate Democrats and the House Democrats can agree [to],” Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) told Roll Call. “Will it be 3.5 [trillion]? I don't think so, but we'll see what negotiations will come in.”

Cuellar was one of the 10 moderates who threatened to oppose the budget plan.

The agreement to vote on the Senate infrastructure bill adds another item to Congress' must-do list before the end of September, along with passing a temporary funding extension to keep the government from shutting down on Oct 1, the beginning of the new fiscal year.

Congress also will need to raise the debt statutory debt limit or risk defaulting on the nation’s debt.

Amodei, who said he has concerns over the bipartisan infrastructure bill because he believes it paves the way for the $3.5 trillion package, said he does not want to see a government shutdown and expects to vote accordingly. 

The Nevada Republican lamented the Democrats' march towards passing the reconciliation package and chalked it up to Democrats looking to make the most of their House and Senate majority while Biden is president. 

“The overall culture is ‘Listen, we're going hell bent for leather,’” Amodei said, adding that he believes Democrats will overreach.

“I have an old saying that says: everything that gets over-political gets ruined,” Amodei said.

For a full rundown of the measures the delegates supported or opposed this week, check out The Nevada Independent’s congressional vote tracker and other information below.

REP. STEVEN HORSFORD

Legislation sponsored:

H.R. 5049 Nursing Home Workforce Support and Expansion Act of 2021

Indy DC Download: Cortez Masto and Rosen seek $205 million for 71 projects, including $31.6 million to pave a 24-mile Nye County road

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Interactive tables and charts breaking down all delegation earmark requests can be found at the bottom of this page after the vote tracker.

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) requested more than $205 million for 71 projects across Nevada under Congress’ revived earmarking system, which allows members to direct spending to specific projects from the 12 annual appropriations bills. 

Earmarks were banned beginning in 2011, when Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) first became House speaker following a few high-profile scandals, including the construction of a bridge in Alaska that was dubbed “the bridge to nowhere.” 

But the practice has long had its proponents, including former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). He argued that, with the ban, Congress relinquished part of its power of the purse to the White House, which would make those spending decisions at the agency level. 

Reid even crossed President Barack Obama on the issue when the former president sided with newly elected Tea Party-backed House Republicans, who called for an end to earmarks.

“I have been a fan of earmarks since I got here the first day. Keep in mind that’s what the country has done for more than 200 years, except for the brief period of time in recent years that we haven’t done these,” Reid told reporters in 2014, adding of Obama: “He’s wrong.” 

Democratic leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations Committee renamed the practice “Community Project Funding.” They also instituted a series of reforms, including requiring public disclosure of each member’s request and barring for-profit companies from receiving funds.

Republicans have mostly embraced the return of the practice. Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV) had all of the $9.5 million he requested for 10 projects in his district funded in the nine spending bills approved by the House late last month. He voted against the bills over concern with Democratic priorities included in the measures.

He separately requested and secured $21 million for five other projects in the House transportation infrastructure bill passed by the House in early July. It’s unclear what the fate of those will be. The Senate’s recently approved $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure measure did not include member-directed funding for specific projects. 

Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV), who secured $17.3 million for four transportation projects in the House bill, has raised concerns about the funding for her projects as the House moves to take a procedural vote on the bipartisan Senate measure next week. 

While the House has passed nine of the 12 annual spending bills, the Senate spending panel is still working on getting the bills to the floor. 

The Capitol is bracing for a spending fight next month when Congress will have to pass a short-term spending extension before the end of September, or the federal government would shut down due to a lack of authority to access funds.

Top $ earmarks

Cortez Masto’s and Rosen’s fiscal year 2022 earmarks lists were identical. 

Both sought $31.6 million—the largest sought of the 71 projects—to pave a 24-mile road from the Duckwater Shoshone Tribe's reservation to the Eureka County line. The tribe is located in the Railroad Valley in the northern tip of Nye County. 

Ely would receive the second-highest amount requested. The Ely Downtown Upgrade Project would receive $26 million. The project, led by the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT), includes improving most storm drains to NDOT design standards and installing a major storm drain from the Courthouse Park to where Murry Creek crosses the railroad. The project would help mitigate flooding.

Another $14 million would go to the County Road 34 Rehabilitation in Washoe. The project would rehabilitate 14 total miles of roadway in the rural portion of northern Washoe County to support economic growth in the region, local communities and the annual Burning Man festival. 

The two senators called for $7.2 million to design a 240-room dormitory at Nellis Air Force Base. Future appropriations would fund construction. The additional housing will help with a housing shortage for junior enlisted airmen at Nellis.

The Washoe County Sheriff’s Office was also in line to get $6 million to design and equip a new infirmary to provide medical and mental health treatment. 

Churchill County would receive $5 million to construct a new rural road with water and sewer infrastructure that would connect the commercial center of Fallon to the Coleman Road Development project.

DRI, UNR, UNLV

The Desert Research Institute (DRI), the nonprofit research campus of the Nevada System of Higher Education, would receive $8 million from three separate requests. 

One request seeks $5 million for research to protect Lake Tahoe. The Sustaining Recreation and Healthy Ecosystems at Lake Tahoe Project is a joint project between the DRI and UNR to fund research to create a long-term sustainable recreation program that can guide future management decisions and reduce the anthropogenic impacts in and around Lake Tahoe.

Another $2 million is sought for the DRI Geoengineering Project. It would allow the DRI to expand its research in climate geoengineering-a field focused on applying engineering to seek solutions to climate change. 

The third request would provide $1 million for DRI's Leeside Risks Initiative. The project would assess extreme winter storm risks to mountain and leeside communities, which sit on the east side of major mountain ranges. The research would be used to develop a common set of tools, models and modes of engagement to help emergency planners assess extreme storm risks and implement mitigation actions in leeside rural and urban communities in Nevada, Utah, Arizona, and the Pacific Northwest.

UNR would receive $4.5 million for two projects, including $3.1 for the school of medicine to establish a state toxicological laboratory that would provide drug testing, confirmation and consultation to public health and public safety agencies.

The senators are seeking another $1.37 million to create an agricultural center in Fallon, which would increase research and food production capabilities in the region. The facility would allow for research activities related to developing new varietals and growing techniques to improve food production and processing under changing climatic conditions.

UNLV was poised to receive $4.6 million for four projects, including $2 million for the dental school to create an outpatient dental clinic devoted to patients with advanced care needs.

Another $1.56 would go to the medical school to acquire two mobile clinics to expand care to the medically underserved in the community. UNLV is also seeking $550,000 to obtain a scanning electron microscope to provide high-resolution images for rapid assessment of the characters and phases in a material.

Half a million was requested for UNLV to purchase a Micro-CT scanner, which uses a 3D imaging technique to allow researchers to see the inside of an object. The technology is critical to researchers studying tissue and organs, composite materials, batteries, and other related items.

Miscellany

Along with $7.2 million to design a 240 room dormitory at Nellis, Creech Air Force Base would receive $4.1 million for two projects. 

Creech would get $2.2 million to design a 44,035 square foot indoor fitness center. The center would provide “a key quality of life improvement from the stressors of the Creech mission, ensure Airmen maintain physical fitness, and positively impact retention and readiness,” the request said.

The senators requested $3.06 million for erosion control of the lower Wash. The Las Vegas Wash is a 12-mile channel that connects the Colorado River to Lake Mead. Erosion control structures will protect existing infrastructure, restore surrounding wetlands and improve drinking water quality for the Southern Nevada region. Rep. Susie Lee (D-NV) also made the same request. 

The two also requested $4 million for North Las Vegas to replace all street lights with LED bulbs, about 26,500 bulbs. Rep. Steven Horsford (D-NV) requested and secured $12 million for the LED conversion in the House-approved transportation infrastructure bill.

The Nevada System of Higher Education would get $2.66 million for a mental health care pilot project. The pilot will focus on three service areas: crisis hotlines/online resources, additional and targeted personnel and training, workshop development, and information. The funds would also be used to conduct a systemwide assessment of mental health services.

Nevada State College in Henderson would receive $4.1 million for three projects. Nearly $2 million would expand mental health and wellness services and $1.6 million would go to establish an inclusive preschool program for three to five-year-olds. Another $648,000 would allow the college's Nursing Technology Enhancement Project to fund technology enhancements, including training models that use simulation scenarios and virtual reality and give students real-time feedback. 

The College of Southern Nevada (CSN) was tapped to receive $315,000, including $223,000 to equip CSN's Advanced Manufacturing Lab and an eLearning Library. Another $92,000 would be used to purchase lab equipment for a new training facility at the CSN's Sahara West Center campus.

.For a full rundown of the measures the delegates supported or opposed this week, check out The Nevada Independent’s congressional vote tracker and other information below.

Indy DC Download: The Senate begins debate on $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure plan

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The Senate voted to begin debate on a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill after ironing out the final details of the measure following a weeks-long process of converting a broad framework into legislative text. 

Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV), who is one of 22 senators who drafted the bill, was proud of the group’s work.

“These negotiations were long, intense, and exactly how Congress is supposed to work – a bipartisan give and take that resulted in a compromise where everyone secured victories and made sacrifices,”  Rosen said in a statement provided by her office.  

She helped write the section on broadband policy, which included legislation she recently introduced, the Middle Mile Broadband Deployment Act. 

“The text we developed funds robust infrastructure improvements in rural and tribal communities, making broadband more affordable for low-income Americans,” Rosen said of the bill.  

Middle mile is a term that describes the connection between the backbone of the internet and a local connection site. Rosen's legislation would create a National Telecommunications and Information Administration program to award grants to build middle-mile infrastructure.

In addition to the broadband provision, Rosen also worked on the airport section of the package, which is also “critical to Nevada’s travel and tourism economy,” she said. 

As the Senate advanced the infrastructure measure, the House approved nine of the 12 annual appropriations bills, including the measure funding the Department of Energy’s (DOE) budget, which included no funding for storing nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain.

The House also adjourned Friday without passing legislation extending the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) eviction moratorium, which expires Saturday.

House Democratic leaders were eyeing an extension through Oct. 18, but the House left town for the August recess without a vote.

Democratic leaders initially wanted an extension through the end of the year, but after not getting a critical mass of support, they scaled it back to Oct. 18 in hopes of winning enough support to pass an extension.

Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV) and Rep. Susie Lee (D-NV) supported taking action on a new extension, but Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and Rosen instead called for a focus on speeding up the distribution of funds provided by the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and other pandemic aid to those that need it. 

“My focus right now is on working with the administration to get rental assistance we passed in ARP out the door and quickly,” Rosen said. 

To date, only about $3 billion of the $46 billion in emergency rental assistance appropriated so far had been distributed to stave off evictions, according to the U.S. Treasury Department.

Infrastructure

Senate votes advancing the infrastructure bill come a little more than a month after members of the bipartisan Senate group announced their deal on the framework for a measure. 

The Senate voted 67 to 32 on Thursday to cut off debate on the motion to take up the bill, easily clearing the 60 vote threshold to advance the measure. The Senate voted Friday, 66 to 28, to begin consideration of the bill. Only 51 votes were needed. Both Rosen and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) voted in favor of the measure.

It remains to be seen if the final bill can attract the 60 votes needed to end debate. But some members of the House were concerned by the Senate measure. Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV) said she wants to ensure that the $20 million she secured for four projects in her district in the infrastructure bill passed by the House in early July get to their intended recipients. 

“If they take out our earmarks, then I lose all those programs for Southern Nevada,” said Titus, who is a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “So I'm not very supportive of that.”

Nevada’s House members have a total of $54.5 million for 11 state projects included in the House bill. One way to preserve that funding would be for the House and Senate to square their different bills in a conference committee.

But Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), chairman of the transportation panel, indicated that a conference was being discouraged by the White House to ensure that the Senate package keeps enough GOP votes to pass the chamber.

“I don’t know,” DeFazio said when asked about the fate of the funding but held out hope for an opportunity to put some of House Democrats’ priorities in the package. 

Also, he added that if the bill is what he expects, he would likely oppose it without any changes. 

“From what we have heard, having seen no text, this bill is going to be status quo 1950s policy,” DeFazio said. “It would be a travesty, at this point in time, to adopt that bill if you believe in climate change.”

Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV) said he was confident that he could get the $21 million he requested for five projects in his district in the annual Department of Transportation appropriations bill if the bipartisan measure does not honor the House earmarks.

“There’s going to be a transportation bill,” Amodei said, adding that he had spoken to the panel’s ranking member Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart on the matter.

The $1.2 trillion package includes $550 billion in new funds, down from the initial $579 million called for in the framework. The rest will come from redirected pandemic relief dollars that had been previously appropriated. 

Of the $550 billion, $110 would go to roads and bridges; $66 billion for passenger and freight rail, $39 billion for transit and $25 billion for airports. The plan would also provide $65 billion for broadband and $7.5 billion for electric vehicle infrastructure.

Another $50 billion would address climate change, including funds to protect against droughts and floods.

The Senate will likely work through the weekend as members press to get amendments added to the bill. However, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) must weigh any changes against the need to keep at least 60 members backing the bill. That augurs for few, if any, changes.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) said he expects it to be a long week.

 “I imagine we'll just grind it out,” Cornyn told reporters. “It’s going to be a grind.”

Appropriations

The House approved nine of the 12 annual appropriations bills, including funding for DOE and the Department of Interior (DOI), which regulates public lands.

The chamber voted 219 to 208 on a roughly $600 billion package of seven bills. All Democrats voted for the measure and no Republicans supported it. The House also approved the bill funding House and Senate members’ office budgets the Library of Congress and other governing-dependent agencies 215 to 207 with only one Republican joining all Democrats. Another spending bill approved by the House, 217 to 212, would fund the State Department. No Republicans voted for the measure. 

Amodei said that while the bills included some of the $9.5 million he requested for 10 projects, most of the spending in the measures he could not support.

He called the appropriations process “agenda driven” that resulted in the spending bills packed with Democratic priorities, $10 million in the spending bill that funds the Department of Justice for a pilot program to develop and expand gun buyback and relinquishment programs. 

Amodei also cited new restrictions added to the D.C. private school voucher program in the bill that oversees the nation's capital. 

The state’s other House members touted funds they secured in the bills, including Rep. Steven Horsford (D-NV), who obtained $7.3 million for nine projects.

Those included $2 million for the Northern Nye County Hospital District to help build a new hospital. He got another $1.5 for street improvements for the Historic Westside of Las Vegas, $1 million to help build a micro-business park in Clark County, $1 million for a civic center in Pahrump and $750,000 for upgrades to the Cheyenne Sports Complex in North Las Vegas.

Titus secured nearly $10 million for seven projects in her districts through the appropriations bills. 

Rep. Susie Lee (D-NV) pointed to her efforts to keep funding from Yucca Mountain. She sits on the Energy and Water Appropriations subcommittee, which oversees DOE and its nuclear waste programs. She joined the panel earlier this year.

“When I was appointed to the House Appropriations Committee, I knew I needed to sit on the Energy and Water subcommittee to ensure that Yucca Mountain would never become the nation’s dumping ground for nuclear waste,” she said in a release.

The House also approved an emergency spending $2.1 billion measure to ramp up security at the Capitol building campus in the wake of the Jan. 6 insurrection. The House passed the measure Thursday 416 to 11, with all members of the delegation voting for the bill. The House action came as the Senate approved the bill 98 to 0. 

The measure provides  $70.7 million for the Capitol Police and $521 million for unanticipated pay and operations costs for the National Guard deployment at the Capitol and throughout the National Capital Region.

Miscellaneous

Cortez Masto introduced legislation that would make it easier for veterans who use a prosthesis to claim an annual clothing allowance. Currently, getting the $841 clothing allowance from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) requires a veteran to file paperwork at a particular clinic each year, sometimes in person. 

“If someone is gravely injured in service to this country, they shouldn’t have to drive hours to the local VA each year to file paperwork just to get a benefit the VA already knows they need,” Cortez Masto said in a release. “

Under the bill, the program would allow the automatic renewal of the benefit until the veteran chooses to receive it no longer or the VA determines that the veteran is no longer eligible. 

Many veterans advocates support the bill, including the Wounded Warrior Project, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Blinded Veterans Association.

Members of the delegation also lamented the White House’s extension of the ban on international travelers spurred by the rise in COVID-19 Delta variant cases.

“It hurts tourism for Las Vegas and that's concerning,” Titus said. “But with the spike in cases all over Europe. I can understand why they would want to be cautious.”

Rosen, who is chair of a Senate tourism and hospitality panel, said that move underscores the need to keep the pressure on vaccinations.

“As Chair of the Subcommittee on Tourism, Trade, and Export Promotion, I am working with U.S. Travel [Association] and my colleagues in the Senate to open safe and secure travel to Nevada,” Rosen said. “There is no question that a safe, science-based reopening of international travel is critical to reviving our tourism economy. If vaccination rates continue to rise and we can responsibly tackle the recent rise in cases, a safe reopening of international travel should be within reach soon.”

SEN. CATHERINE CORTEZ MASTO

Legislation sponsored:

S.2568 A bill to establish the Open Access Evapotranspiration (OpenET) Data Program.

S.2513 A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the application and review process of the Department of Veterans Affairs for clothing allowance claims submitted by veterans, and for other purposes.

Legislation co-sponsored:

S.2612 A bill to amend title 28, United States Code, to provide for a code of conduct for justices and judges of the courts of the United States.

SEN. JACKY ROSEN

Legislation sponsored:

S.2566 A bill to require the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation to test allowing blood transfusions to be paid separately from the Medicare hospice all-inclusive per diem payment.

S.2565 A bill to amend title XI of the Social Security Act to provide for the testing of a community-based palliative care model.

S.2518 A bill to require the Secretary of Defense to disclose testing and results of testing for perfluoroalkyl or polyfluoroalkyl substances and to provide additional requirements for testing for such substances, and for other purposes.

S.2483 A bill to require the Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to establish cybersecurity guidance for small organizations, and for other purposes.

S.2473 A bill to provide grants for the construction, improvement, and acquisition of middle mile infrastructure.

REP. DINA TITUS

Legislation co-sponsored:

H.R. 4811 To amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate prices of drugs furnished under the Medicare program, and for other purposes.

H.R. 4791 Protecting Renters from Evictions Act of 2021

H.R. 4785 To support the human rights of Uyghurs and members of other minority groups residing in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and safeguard their distinct identity, and for other purposes.

H.R. 4687 To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide tax incentives for the establishment of supermarkets in certain underserved areas.

REP. SUSIE LEE

Legislation sponsored:

H.R. 4832 To establish the Open Access Evapotranspiration (OpenET) Data Program.

REP. STEVEN HORSFORD

Legislation co-sponsored:

H.R. 4833 To amend the Migratory Bird Treaty Act to affirm that the Migratory Bird Treaty Act's prohibition on the unauthorized take or killing of migratory birds includes incidental take by commercial activities, and to direct the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to regulate such incidental take, and for other purposes.

H.R. 4791 Protecting Renters from Evictions Act of 2021

Amodei, over a cancer scare, weighs congressional seniority in decision to run for governor

As Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV) decides whether to launch a bid for governor, he said this week that he will take into account the likelihood that his seat stays in GOP hands and the seniority he has earned in Congress, which could see him lead one of two spending panels should Republicans win back the majority next year. 

Amodei also discussed a cancer scare that he said is now behind him. 

He had spots removed from both kidneys and another removed from his esophagus. All were caught early and treated over roughly nine months, Amodei said, adding that he is happy to be done with it.

Making the knock-on-wood gesture, he said he feels “very lucky” if this is his cancer story.

Amodei represents Congressional District 2, which the Cook Political Report gave a R+8 partisan voter index (PVI) rating for 2021. The PVI is used to measure the partisan intensity of a congressional district.

“That’s not obscene,” Amodei said of his district’s rating. 

He agreed that a Republican would still likely win the seat if he left, even after congressional redistricting by the Democratic-majority legislature later this year and a growing Democratic presence in Washoe County.

“I'm glad that I'm doing what I was elected to do because it's been important work and we've done a lot of it,” Amodei continued.

He believes he could do more of that work as the chairman—or the ranking Republican, if the GOP remains in the minority after the midterms—of the House Appropriations Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee or the Legislative Branch Subcommittee.

Amodei is the second-most senior Republican on both those panels. The chairmen of the 12 appropriation subcommittees in both the House and Senate are known as cardinals in congressional parlance. 

“Here’s what it boils down to,” Amodei said. “I’m two people away from being either a ranking member or a cardinal, not that that started out as my plan.”

The financial services panel funds the U.S. Treasury, the IRS and a host of banking regulators. The legislative subcommittee is also important since it funds the members’ office budgets, the Capitol Police, the Library of Congress and other agencies critical to governing.

As the only Republican in the delegation, he also said he feels some responsibility to be the lone voice for Republican principles, which he could do more effectively than a freshman lawmaker.

“Regardless of who it is, it’s like, ‘well here you go, you may be in the majority, you may be in the minority, but you're going to be an incoming freshman,’” Amodei said. “Listen, that’s not a strength for Republican issues in Nevada and in the federal delegation.” 

But he feels good about his chances in a primary, especially in Clark County, should he decide to run for governor. Part of his motivation is to prove wrong pundits who bet against him. 

“Part of me just wants to swing for the fences,” Amodei said. “You’ve got some of the pundits that say ‘you don't have any Vegas-based consultants. Well I have Vegas-based grassroots people. We have our precincts squared away.  And by the way, we’ve done some homework. In a Republican primary, it works out just fine for someone who has been strong in the North.”

“Vegas casts 54 percent of the vote in a Republican primary,” Amodei continued. “I’ll get my share of the Republicans down there if I’m in.”   

He also said he plans to talk to former Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV), who ​​is also weighing a potential bid. Amodei won a 2011 special election to his current seat after then-congressman Heller was tapped to join the Senate following the resignation of former Sen. John Ensign (R-NV).

“I owe him a call because I think we’re seen as the two potential Northern Nevada guys,” Amodei said.  

Amodei reiterated his plan to make a decision on a gubernatorial run in October.

This story was updated on Aug. 5, 2021, at 9:51 p.m. to indicate that Rep. Mark Amodei had a cancerous spot removed from his esophagus.

Titus, Lee back congressional push to extend eviction moratorium; other Nevada reps hedge

The White House’s decision Thursday not to extend the national temporary evictions ban set to expire this weekend — and instead urge Congress to take immediate action on the issue — drew varied responses from Nevada’s congressional delegation.

Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV) called on Democratic leaders to pass legislation to ensure people can stay in their homes. Titus, asked off the House floor on Thursday, said she believes “there should have been” an extension by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

She noted that unemployment in Las Vegas remains high, at 7.8 percent in June, and that a wave of evictions would exacerbate that. An estimated 61,000 Nevada households — or 12 percent of renter households in Nevada — are behind on rent, according to a National Equity Atlas analysis of June 2021 U.S. Census Household Pulse Survey data. 

She pointed to the 2008 housing crisis and its effect on Las Vegas.

“After seeing how bad that was, I don’t want to see it again,” Titus said.

Her comments come a day after Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, indicated he would not renew a state-level eviction moratorium that expired weeks ago. Asked Wednesday if he thought his no-extension position was still appropriate, he pivoted to emphasizing the importance of vaccines to ending the pandemic.

“The moratorium expires this weekend. I encourage everyone to get a vaccine as quickly as possible,” Sisolak said in a virtual press conference touting rental assistance programs.

His office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday about whether he would support a congressional extension of the eviction moratorium.

Titus said that Democratic leaders were gauging support on an extension through the end of the year.

“There might be some action on that,” said Rep. Susie Lee (D-NV) when asked Thursday during a vote series whether she wanted the CDC to act. 

Lee said she backed an extension and added that ending the ban could hurt the nascent recovery in Nevada.

“The recovery is happening, but this is still unprecedented,” Lee said. “It's going to be uneven, and I still think there's a need.”

Titus’ and Lee’s reactions contrasted with that of Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), who — telegraphing the White House announcement — declined to call for an extension when asked Wednesday.

Instead, Cortez Masto said she wants state and local governments to increase the disbursement of rental assistance funds. To date, only about $3 billion of the $46 billion in emergency rental assistance appropriated so far had been distributed to stave off evictions, according to the U.S. Treasury Department.

“I've been talking and working with our local governments and our state governments,” Cortez Masto said in a brief interview. “Their goal is to get it out as quickly as possible. I want to hear from them if there's any red tape at the federal level. This has been the push — to make sure the money gets utilized.” 

Nevada has distributed about one-third of the approximately $480 million it has designated for rental assistance as of June 30. Though Clark County has a backlog of about 8,000 applications, program administrator Kevin Schiller said Wednesday the county is “doing a pretty good job” relative to other jurisdictions in disbursing the money.

Washoe County’s program, which serves some but not all of the applicants in the county,  reports it has helped nearly 300 households through its rental assistance allocation and has 431 applications pending.

On the federal level, other Democrats including Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) said that another extension is warranted.

“I think they should,” Durbin told reporters. “There are a lot of people still struggling. Let me tell you, a wave of evictions in America is not good for landlords or tenants.” 

His comments were echoed by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) who leads the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

She also took issue with the White House saying it could not extend the moratorium. A June Supreme Court ruling concluded that the White House does not have the authority to ban evictions, but left the previous moratorium in place until its expiration at the end of July. She believes that COVID-19 Delta variant cases rising fits the criteria of public health emergency.

“The federal government has the authority for public health emergencies to make these kinds of determinations, so I do believe that the administration can do this,” Jayapal said in an interview.

But Titus said that despite the difficulty of passing legislation — especially in the Senate, which is split 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats and where 60 votes are needed to pass most legislation — it is worth making the push.

“The Supreme Court has made a ruling,” Titus said. “The president said he can't do it. It's up to Congress. We should do it. We’re going to do it. I feel confident.” 

Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV), channeling what most Republicans have said on the issue, added that he believes the moratorium should be wound down. Amodei has also been critical of other pandemic aid, including enhanced unemployment benefits, that he argues disincentivize people from working because the program pays them more than most jobs would.

“This is becoming a way of life,” Amodei said in an interview. “That’s unsustainable.”

Their comments come as Diane Yentel, executive director of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, called for another CDC extension during her testimony at a congressional hearing earlier this week on the state of evictions by corporate landlords.

She, too, cited increasing cases of the COVID-19 Delta variant and the slow distribution of $46 billion dollars in emergency rental assistance, including $21.5 billion dollars authorized in March through the American Rescue Plan. 

“The newly surging Delta variant, low vaccination rates in communities with high eviction filings and the slow rate of distributing [Emergency Rental Assistance] make the necessity of an extension abundantly clear,” Yentel said Tuesday at a hearing held by the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis. “In turn, states and cities must improve and expedite getting assistance to the tenants who need it to stay housed.”

Yentel said that 6.5 million people nationwide are in danger of being evicted. 

The White House recently released data that showed that in June, the federal government doubled the rental aid funds it distributed to $3 billion, out of $25 billion available, and that it helped 291,000 households last month, compared to 157,000 households in May and 101,000 in April.

Christine Hess, the executive director of the nonprofit Nevada Housing Coalition, wrote in an email that the Biden administration’s actions to ensure rental assistance reaches those in need alleviated some of her concerns surrounding the lifting of the moratorium. 

She added that the Legislature’s passage of AB486, a measure aimed at preventing landlords from evicting while tenants’ rental assistance applications are still being processed, would also help renters affected by the pandemic.

“That said, I do share concerns that we may still not be reaching all those in need,” Hess said. “Unfortunately, our eviction data in Nevada is not easily accessible to know the effects of the ending of the moratorium real-time.”

Groups such as Home Means Nevada, the Clark County Commission and the Clark County CARES Housing Assistance Program have made efforts to reach out to renters in need and educate them about how the eviction process works and what steps they need to take if they are evicted. But “generally, people in crisis are the hardest people to reach,” Bailey Bortolin, the statewide policy director for the Nevada Coalition of Legal Service Providers, said at a virtual press conference hosted by the progressive group Battle Born Progress. 

Laura Martin, executive director of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, said non-governmental organizations such as hers are trying to reach out to people through mail and text about eviction process updates, but that the state does not have the infrastructure to effectively reach out to everyone that needs rental assistance. 

“We just don’t have the infrastructure in this state,” Martin said at the virtual event. “I have family in Hawaii and New York and Colorado ... they have texting that the state can do with alerts.”

Bortolin encourages those who need rental assistance to reach out to their county commissioner or to legal aid organizations for help. 

But advocates also noted that rent prices in Nevada are on the rise, and the eviction moratorium will not solve the lack of affordable housing for low-income Nevadans.

“The eviction moratorium in theory works, but it's not really working because in the end, people still have to pay that rent,” Martin said. 

She called for implementing a rent cap, which would prevent landlords from raising rent because of high demand or taking advantage of people who are desperate for housing, such as formerly incarcerated people who cannot pass background or credit checks. 

Michelle Rindels contributed to this report.

This story was updated at 7:30 p.m. on 7/29/21 to add details from the tenant advocate forum.

Indy DC Download: Senate fails to advance the bipartisan infrastructure bill, but a second opportunity lurks

East front of the U.S. Capitol.

Despite a failed Senate effort to begin debate on the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package that’s still being negotiated, senators working on the bill are close to working out lingering disagreements, and another vote to take up the measure could come next week.   

Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV), one of the 22 senators—11 Democrats and 11 Republicans—negotiating the details of the agreement, said she remains cautiously optimistic that the Senate will take up the bill.

“We continue to work on the bill’s final details—including those related to important issues like expanding broadband access—and I am hopeful that in the coming days we will move forward in our effort to pass infrastructure legislation that makes a meaningful difference in the lives of Nevadans,” Rosen said in a comment provided by her office. 

President Joe Biden said during a CNN town hall in Cincinnati Wednesday that he believes that the Senate would vote again Monday and that there would be the 60 votes needed to take up the package. 

“I take my Republican colleagues at their word,” Biden said, citing a letter from Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) and other negotiators signed saying they would be ready to vote to proceed Monday. 

In addition to working on the bipartisan bill, Rosen also touted provisions she secured in the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), including no funding for storing defense nuclear waste in Yucca Mountain. The bill also included $100 million for five remotely piloted drone aircraft, MQ-9 Reapers, operated out of Creech Air Force Base.

Meanwhile, the House approved legislation that would designate certain perfluoroalkyl

 and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS, as hazardous substances within one year of the bill’s enactment and would require the government to consider similarly designating other PFAS substances within five years. The bill would also set PFAS standards for drinking water and air pollution.

The measure passed 241 to 183. Most Republicans, including Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV), opposed the bill arguing that the bill amounts to government overreach and would result in a boon for trial lawyers. Amodei also opposed the bill last year when the House passed the measure, but it was never considered by the Senate. 

Infrastructure

The Senate voted Wednesday, 49 to 51, on a procedural vote to advance the bipartisan infrastructure measure, short of the 60 votes needed. 

The final tally reflects that Senate Majority Chuck Schumer (D-NY) changed his vote from ‘yes’ to ‘no’, which, under Senate rules, allows him to reschedule the vote without notice.   

Following the vote, the negotiators, including Rosen, signed on to a statement that underscored they are only a few days away from finishing the bill. 

Rep. Steven Horsford (D-NV) said he still prefers a bipartisan approach if it's possible. But failing an agreement with Senate Republicans, Democrats have the option of putting all of their agenda into a single package and passing it with 51 votes under reconciliation. That process allows the Senate to sidestep a filibuster and approve certain legislation with a simple majority.

“If the Senate can't get there then we'll do it on our own through reconciliation,” Horsford said off the House floor Wednesday. “But if there's a way to get them on board, then I will support that as well.”

Among the last-minute disagreements is how much to spend on transit. Democrats want to spend 80 percent of the surface transportation funds on highways and 20 percent on transit, but Republicans want to spend more on roads and less on transit.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), who has been working on the issue, told reporters Wednesday that the 80-20 split between roads and transit has been the transitional distribution ratio in transportations bills going back to President Ronald Reagan’s administration.

“Republicans don't have great interest in public transit, that's the problem,” Brown said, adding that he was working with Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) on the impasse.

He said that Toomey is not budging on the issue and it’s unclear how they will proceed. Portman, on CNN Thursday, floated the idea of leaving out the transit provision altogether. 

But that sparked a reaction from Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), who took to Twitter to declare he will oppose the bill if transit is not included. 

NDAA

The Senate Armed Services Committee approved the NDAA on a 23 to 3 vote. Rosen joined the committee in February and this is her first NDAA, which sets the nation’s defense policy for the fiscal year. The measure is funded in the annual appropriations process.

“I was proud to help put together this year's National Defense Authorization Act, which includes a well-deserved [2.7 percent] pay raise for our troops, no funding for Yucca Mountain, and long-term support for Nevada bases and facilities, and the missions of national importance they execute,” Rosen said.

Along with Yucca provision and funds for the MQ-9 Reapers, Rosen also secured language to \ help the Nevada National Security Site receive more consistent funding. The bill includes non-binding language based on legislation introduced by Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Rosen expressing the sense of the Senate that Congress should have to vote to resume any potential nuclear testing.

Another provision would provide aid to junior enlisted troops who are forced out of military-provided housing due to shortages and incur costs before they are eligible to receive Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH). The issue came up when Rosen recently visited Nellis and Creech Air Force Bases, where airmen talked to her about this challenge and the need to change how BAH formulas are calculated.

The bill also would require the Department of Defense to brief Congress on how they determine BAH formulas and address discrepancies. The BAH often does not cover the costs. 

“As it currently stands, Airmen stationed at Nellis and Creech AFB receive BAH for the cost of living of those areas, rather than the locations they actually live,” Rosen said in a release. “Most Creech Airmen, for instance, live in Las Vegas, which has a higher cost of living than the Indian Springs, NV BAH they receive.”

DACA

The recent ruling by a federal judge in Texas preventing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program from granting new applications has highlighted the need for Congress to enact immigration reform. 

DACA protects immigrants illegally brought to the U.S. as children from deportation and allows them to work. According to government data, an estimated 640,000 people nationwide currently participate in the program, including around 12,000 in Nevada.

Cortez Masto is working with a bipartisan group of senators on a possible bipartisan framework for an immigration reform measure. However, she said Wednesday that including elements in the Democrats' $3.5 trillion reconciliation infrastructure package remains an option.

“I'm hopeful, though, that we continue the bipartisan talks around this and we can really come to some agreement,” Cortez Masto said.

She said the group is looking at bipartisan bills passed by the House in March to provide a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients and the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program, which provides limited entry into the country to those from countries suffering from natural disasters or political instability.

"I think it can be counterbalanced with border security, beefing up the resources that we need at the border in technology and really opportunities to work on the human resource side to protect against any terrorist activity coming over or criminal element," Cortez Masto said, similar to the Senate immigration bill approved in 2013. "I think it is important. And so we're going to continue that conversation."

Following the court’s ruling, members of the delegation signaled their support for DACA recipients, known as DREAMers, and the need for immigration reform.

The ruling is the most recent in a series that has left DREAMers uncertain about whether they will be able to stay in the country where, typically, they have lived most of their lives. 

Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV) Tuesday called for the issue to be included in the reconciliation bill to ensure that DREAMers get their status addressed.

She also wrote a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas asking why the agency canceled appointments for new applicants. She said that the ruling, issued by Judge  Andrew Hanen, stated that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), through its U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) division, could keep accepting applications but not grant them.

“These appointments not only take months to secure but, if this decision is eventually reversed, will put applicants further behind by having to reschedule these application requirements,” Titus wrote. “In order to minimize the negative impact of Judge Hanen’s decision on initial DACA applicants, USCIS should continue to process materials and issue appointments, which is in line with the organization’s administrative capabilities.”

She called for the agency to provide clear guidance to applicants as a result of the ruling. Titus is a member of the Homeland Security Committee, which oversees DHS.

USCIS is currently sitting on about 81,000 initial DACA applications, according to CBS News.

Miscellaneous 

With COVID-19 cases spiking in Nevada, members of the state’s congressional delegation said they supported Clark County’s mandate requiring employees of businesses in the county to wear masks while working in indoor public spaces.

“I support the County’s decision,” Rosen said in a statement provided by her office. “I trust that the county will continue to make smart, science-based decisions on how to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities as we build back better from this pandemic.”

Cortez Masto also said the county is following the latest from medical experts, an approach she supports.

“I’m not going to second-guess the county,” Cortez Masto said. “I know their goal is to look out for the best interest” of residents and visitors. 

Cortez Masto echoed a point made by Rep. Susie Lee (D-NV), who said that the mandate reflects the need to boost vaccination rates. 

Lee said it’s “irresponsible” for people not to get the vaccine when it’s readily available. 

“You're requiring people who were responsible to now go back to wearing masks, but the bottom line is we’ve got to save lives,” Lee said.

Horsford said he was listening to the county debate and said he supports the commissioners. 

“I get that people are frustrated and they want to move on,”: Horsford said. “But this is why we need everyone to get vaccinated.”  

Cortez Masto introduced the Western Wildfire Support Act, requiring the Department of the Interior (DOI) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA) to create fire management plans for public lands across the West. The plans will include pre-fire planning, wildfire response management, and post-fire recovery.

The measure also includes $100 million to help affected communities conduct long-term rehabilitation projects and would establish a grant program to help federal, state and local agencies acquire firefighting equipment – including air-tankers and slip-on tank units.

Introduction of the measure comes after more than 800 wildfires burned throughout Nevada alone in 2020, and this year there are currently more than 80 fires burning in 13 western states.

The bill also comes as severe drought and other climate change factors increase the frequency and intensity of wildfires all across the West, Kacey KC, Nevada State Fire Warden and Administrator of the Nevada Division of Forestry, said in a release supporting the bill.

Lastly, Amodei touted securing $9.5 million for ten projects in the annual spending bills. However, he opposed the bills in committee over spending he found suspect and is likely to oppose them on the floor. 

“I can’t vote for numerous costly, and politically driven measures in this legislation,” Amodei said in a release. 

As "areas of concern," he mentioned $10 million in the spending bill that funds the Department of Justice for a pilot program to develop and expand gun buyback and relinquishment programs. 

He cited new restrictions added to the D.C. private school voucher program in the bill that oversees the nation's capital. 

Amodei took issue with a $927 million cut to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection in the DHS spending bill. And he lamented cutting Hyde Amendment language that prevents federal tax dollars from being used to pay for abortions in the bill funding the Department of Health and Human Services.

Amodei’s projects include $1.5 million to replace the existing filtration system at the Quill Water Treatment Plant in Carson City and $1 million for the Southeast Carson City Sewer Extension.

For a full rundown of the measures the delegates supported or opposed this week, check out The Nevada Independent’s congressional vote tracker and other information below.

SEN. CATHERINE CORTEZ MASTO

Legislation sponsored:

S.2404 A bill to improve Federal activities relating to wildfires, and for other purposes.

Legislation co-sponsored:

S.2446 A bill to amend the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 to provide for greater spousal protection under defined contribution plans, and for other purposes.

S.2410 A bill to address and take action to prevent bullying and harassment of students.

S.2409 A bill to require the Secretary of Labor to maintain a publicly available list of all employers that relocate a call center or contract call center work overseas, to make such companies ineligible for Federal grants or guaranteed loans, and to require disclosure of the physical location of business agents engaging in customer service communications, and for other purposes.

SEN. JACKY ROSEN

Legislation co-sponsored:

S.2464 A bill to require the Secretary of Commerce, acting through the Assistant Secretary for Economic Development, to establish a RECOMPETE grant program to provide flexible, 10-year block grants for purposes of creating quality jobs, providing resources to help local residents access opportunities and attain and retain employment, increasing local per capita income and employment rates, and supporting long-term, sustained economic growth and opportunity in persistently distressed areas, and for other purposes.

S.2446 A bill to amend the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 to provide for greater spousal protection under defined contribution plans, and for other purposes.

S.2382 A bill to authorize the National Cyber Director to accept details from other elements of the Federal Government on nonreimbursable basis, and for other purposes.

REP. DINA TITUS

Legislation co-sponsored:

H.R. 4640 To amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide for certain reforms with respect to medicare supplemental health insurance policies.

H.R. 4632 To require the Secretary of State to submit a plan to eliminate the backlog of passport applications due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and for other purposes.

H.R. 4631 To amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to reinstate the authority of the Secretary of Education to make Federal Direct Stafford Loans to graduate and professional students.

H.R. 4589 To amend the State Department Basic Authorities Act of 1956 to establish in the Department of State a Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer and the Foreign Service Act of 1980 to promote increased diversity and inclusion in the Foreign Service, and for other purposes.

H.R. 4526 To establish an Office of City and State Diplomacy within the Department of State, and for other purposes.

REP. MARK AMODEI

Legislation sponsored:

H.R. 4506 To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to furnish tests and vaccinations to veterans during public health emergencies.

Legislation co-sponsored:

H.R. 4614 To expedite under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 and improve forest management activities on National Forest System lands, on public lands under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management, and on Tribal lands to return resilience to overgrown, fire-prone forested lands, and for other purposes.

H.R. 4568 To amend the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 to provide additional appropriations for, and oversight of, the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, and for other purposes.

REP. SUSIE LEE

Legislation co-sponsored:

H.R. 4591 To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to submit to Congress periodic reports on the costs of the Department of Veterans Affairs Electronic Health Record Modernization program.

REP. STEVEN HORSFORD

Legislation co-sponsored:

H.R. 4651 To require the Secretary of Commerce, acting through the Assistant Secretary for Economic Development, to establish a RECOMPETE grant program to provide flexible, 10-year block grants for purposes of creating quality jobs, providing resources to help local residents access opportunities and attain and retain employment, increasing local per capita income and employment rates, and supporting long-term, sustained economic growth and opportunity in persistently distressed areas, and for other purposes.

H.R. 4650 To amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide for dental and oral health care benefits under the Medicare program.

Cortez Masto, Susie Lee again lead second quarter fundraising tallies as 2022 money race ramps up

Senator Catherine Cortez Masto speaking into a microphone behind a podium

Nevada’s incumbent Democrats padded their campaign war chests through the second quarter, with Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and Rep. Susie Lee leading their respective fields, according to data reported this week by the Federal Election Commission. 

Cortez Masto raked in nearly $2.8 million, exceeding her first quarter fundraising by nearly half a million dollars. Lee, meanwhile, raised more than $615,000, an amount roughly equaling her own first quarter numbers. 

With just under a year remaining before next year’s primary elections, fields in every race remain relatively small. Still, a handful of new entrants have emerged in the state’s key congressional battlegrounds, including three Republicans each in District 3 and 4 (both held by Democrats), and a primary challenger to Democratic Rep. Dina Titus in the deep blue District 1. 

Below are additional campaign finance numbers for each candidate who filed with the FEC as of Friday, broken down by congressional race and ordered from greatest cumulative fundraising to least. 

Catherine Cortez Masto (D) - incumbent

With no declared challengers through the entirety of the second quarter, Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto boosted her campaign warchest with more than $2.7 million in contributions. Even after spending nearly $900,000, that sum lifted her cash on hand to nearly $6.6 million.

Cortez Masto’s campaign touted that cash on hand cushion as a crucial advantage this week, though the race to take or hold her seat in the Senate will likely draw millions more in fundraising for both major parties as next year’s general election approaches.

Still, her quarterly fundraising total was the lowest of any of the four Democratic Senate incumbents running in states rated as “Lean Democratic” by the Cook Political Report, a group of candidates that also includes Kelly ($6 million raised), Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock ($7.2 million) and New Hampshire Sen. Maggie Hassan ($3.3 million). 

A vast majority of her second quarter fundraising — more than $2.3 million — came from individuals. Another $342,000 came from PACs, with the remainder flowing from committee transfers ($101,000), expenditure offsets and other receipts.

Almost a quarter of Cortez Masto’s spending — more than $218,000 — went to expenses related to fundraising mailers, including consultants, printing and postage, with even more ($343,000) dedicated to online fundraising expenses. 

Two Republican candidates, Sharelle Mendenhall and Sam Brown, formed campaign committees in July and did not report fundraising in the second quarter, which ended in June. 

Susie Lee (D) - incumbent 

Frequently the top House fundraiser in Nevada, Democratic Rep. Susie Lee once again led the state’s congressional candidates in the money race with more than $615,000 in second quarter contributions, pushing her cash on hand to nearly $955,000. 

Almost three-quarters of Lee’s fundraising, about $447,000, came from individual contributions, with another $156,000 coming from PACs. Much of the total also came from big-money donations, including eight contributions of the $5,000 maximum from PACs, and another 85 contributions of the maximum $2,900 for individuals (all totaling for a combined $286,500).

Lee’s spending last quarter neared $144,000, with sizable chunks of that money flowing to consultants — who combined for $45,700 in expenses — and advertising, including $20,000 for a digital ad campaign from Washington, D.C.-based firm Break Something. 

April Becker (R)

A one-time 2020 Nevada Senate hopeful-turned congressional challenger, April Becker led the district’s field of Republicans last quarter with nearly $251,000 in contributions, as well as roughly $259,000 cash on hand. 

Almost all of Becker’s fundraising came from individual contributions, with some major donors including several linked to the Meruelo Group — including maximum $5,800 contributions from Alex Meruelo, his wife Liset, and Meruelo Enterprises Vice President Luis Armona — and members of the Station Casinos-owning Fertitta family, including $5,800 contributions from Frank Fertitta III, Jill Fertitta, Lorenzo Fertitta and Teresa Fertitta. 

Becker also far outspent her rivals, dropping nearly $123,000, including more than $84,000 on expenses related to consulting or advertising. Of that money, more than $17,000 went to Las Vegas-based consulting firm November Inc., and nearly $19,000 went to October Inc.

Mark Robertson (R)

Another early entrant into the District 3 race, veteran Mark Robertson trailed Becker with $104,000 in contributions and nearly $117,000 in cash on hand. 

Nearly all of his fundraising, roughly $97,000, came from individual contributions, with another $3,000 coming from PACs and $3,600 coming from candidate loans. Many of Robertson’s biggest donors were Las Vegas-based business owners, including America’s Mart owners Nick and Kristy Willden ($5,800 each), Sunrise Paving’s Glenn and Jill Warren ($5,800 each) and Patrick’s Signs CFO Tiffani Dean ($5,800). 

Robertson reported spending only $31,000 last quarter, with much of it split between consulting, advertising and event fees. 

Noah Malgeri (R)

The newest Republican challenger in the field who entered the race in early June — just before the quarter ended — Republican attorney and business owner Noah Malgeri trailed the rest of the field with nearly $39,000 in second quarter fundraising and $32,400 cash on hand. 

That money stems mostly from more than $31,100 in candidate loans, buoyed by another $7,750 in individual contributions. 

Of the $6,300 Malgeri spent last quarter, almost all of it ($6,033) went to Las Vegas-based firm McShane, LLC. 

One other candidate, Republican Reinier Prijten, briefly filed in April before formally terminating his campaign committee in May.

Steven Horsford (D) - incumbent

Touting record off-year fundraising for a single quarter, Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford pulled in more than $581,000 last quarter, boosting his cash on hand to more than $1.2 million — a massive sum larger even than Nevada’s usual fundraising frontrunner, Susie Lee, and almost eight times as much money as his next nearest Republican competitor. 

A slight majority of Horsford’s fundraising ($305,800) came from individual contributions, with the remaining $275,000 coming from PAC money. Like Lee, Horsford also saw most of his money flow from big-dollar fundraising and maximum contributions, including 15 $5,000 maximum contributions from PACs, and another 127 individual contributions between the maximum $2,900 and $2,000. 

Together, those major contributions combine for more than $414,000. 

Horsford’s campaign spent more than $127,000 through the quarter, including more than $11,000 on online advertising and more than $22,000 on consulting.   

Sam Peters (R)

The runner-up in last year’s Republican primary in District 4, veteran and insurance salesman Sam Peters entered this year’s race with a fundraising edge on his Republican rivals. That edge continued into the second quarter, where he raised more than $119,000 and was left with more than $155,000 cash on hand. 

Peters saw a handful of maximum individual contributions through the quarter, with most coming from retirees or real estate-related donors. 

Peters was the only Republican spending large amounts last quarter, dropping more than $76,000. A sizable chunk of that spending, almost $34,000, went to Las Vegas-based consulting firm McShane, while another $18,700 went to credit card fees. 

Carolina Serrano (R) 

Though she was a relatively late entrant into the race, only forming her campaign committee in June, former Trump campaign staffer Carolina Serrano still banked more than $49,000 last quarter and enters the third quarter with more than $42,000 left on hand. 

A majority of that fundraising came from a handful of big names (both current and former) in the gaming industry. That includes maximum $5,800 contributions from former Wynn CEO Steve Wynn and his wife, Andrea, as well as another $5,800 from Meruelo Group President Alex Meruelo, $4,200 from his wife Liset, $5,800 from Meruelo Group Executive Vice President Luis Armona and $4,200 from his wife, Margaret. 

Together, those six contributions alone total $31,600, or roughly two-thirds of all the money Serrano raised. 

Serrano spent comparatively little last quarter — just $6,200 — though nearly all of it came through a $5,000 digital ad buy.  

Tony Lane (R)

A former player for the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels in the mid-90s and now a Las Vegas business owner, Tony Lane raised the least of any Republican in the race with just $3,942. He spent nearly all of it — $3,362 — leaving just under $580 cash on hand. 

One other candidate, non-partisan John Johnson, did not report fundraising for this period, despite forming a campaign committee in February. 

Dina Titus (D) - incumbent

Facing what could be her first serious primary challenge since winning District 1 in 2012, Democratic Rep. Dina Titus roughly tripled her fundraising from the first quarter to the second, raking in more than $152,000 and lifting her cash on hand to more than $463,000. 

Of all Nevada’s federal-level midterms next year, Titus’ race could become the center of a split between the establishment wing of the state party and a surging group of left-wing activists. 

Those activists won a key victory in March of this year, electing a slate of progressives to party leadership positions. Ahead of that loss, the party apparatus hemorrhaged staffers and hundreds of thousands in money was transferred from state party accounts to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. 

Establishment Democrats have since launched a new campaign apparatus, the Nevada Democratic Victory campaign. 

Titus’ fundraising was almost even split between individual contributions ($80,000) and PAC money ($72,000), with some of Titus’ largest fundraisers including Las Vegas mega-donor Stephen Cloobeck ($2,800), Las Vegas-based attorney and political director for the state Senate Democrats Alisa Nave ($5,600) and Las Vegas-based doctor and frequent Democratic donor Nic Spirtos ($5,800).

Titus spent little in comparison to her fellow incumbents, logging just under $29,000 in expenditures last quarter. Most of that money, almost $20,000, went to consultants, including more than $12,000 for fundraising consulting. 

Amy Vilela (D)

A third-place runner up in the 2018 race to fill the open seat left in District 4 by the departure of Democratic Rep. Ruben Kihuen (a race ultimately won by Steven Horsford), Amy Vilela has entered 2022’s primary for District 1 as a progressive challenge to the establishment-backed Titus.

Touting her efforts for the Bernie Sanders campaign in 2020 and, more recently, an endorsement from progressive Missouri Rep. Cori Bush, Vilela posted nearly $82,000 in second-quarter fundraising, with almost $58,000 cash on hand. 

All of that fundraising came from individual contributions, and all came through the online Democratic fundraising platform ActBlue. As a result, much of her fundraising came from out-of-state. Of 56 unique contributors to Vilela’s campaign, just 10 listed a Nevada address.

Vilela reported just $23,300 in spending, with almost all of it dedicated to operating expenses, including $2,500 spent on consulting. 

Mark Amodei (R) - incumbent

As he has continued to leave the door open for a possible run at the governor’s mansion, Republican incumbent Mark Amodei nearly outspent his fundraising through the second quarter, burning through more than $88,000 of the $90,000 raised, leaving roughly $325,500 cash on hand. 

Outside one $2,900 contribution from Cashell Enterprises CEO Rob Cashell Jr., most of Amodei’s major donations came from PACs or corporate donors. That includes $5,000 from Las Vegas Sands, $5,000 from the Credit Union Legislative Action Council, and $2,500 each from NV Energy, the American Bakers Association, construction materials company CalPortland and the law firm Holland & Hart. 

Some of Amodei’s spending went to a number of contributions to other Republican incumbents, including $1,000 each for Iowa Rep. Ashley Hinson, New York Rep. Claudia Tenney, Nebraska Rep. Don Bacon, North Carolina Rep. Richard Hudson, Illinois Rep. Rodney Davis, and California Rep. David Valadao. 

However, Amodei also spent large sums on consulting ($37,500) and “contributor relations” expenses ($15,400). 

One other candidate, Democrat Aaron Michael Sims, formed a campaign committee in the second quarter but did not file a campaign finance report as of Friday morning.

Indy DC Download: House passes $760 billion infrastructure package, creates Jan. 6 committee and votes to oust confederate statues in the U.S. Capitol

East front of the U.S. Capitol.

The House approved a $760 billion transportation and water infrastructure package, voted to create an ad hoc Democrat-led committee to investigate the causes of the Jan. 6 insurrection and adopted a measure to remove all publicly-displayed confederate statues from the U.S. Capitol. 

The infrastructure bill included $54.5 million requested by Nevada's House members for 11 state projects. The legislation included 1,473 earmarks, costing almost $5.7 billion.

“There's a lot in there for the state,” said Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV), a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which crafted the package and approved it last month

“I'm pleased, because I was able to serve on that committee and be sure that Nevada has a seat at the table,” Titus, who represents Las Vegas, continued. “We need infrastructure to bring people to Nevada and so that they can move around once they get there and for the 2 million people who live in Southern Nevada.”

The measure initially cost $715 billion, but amendments added on the House floor boosted the price tag.

Most of the votes in the House divided the state’s congressional delegation along party lines. 

But all members voted for the confederate statue-removal bill. They also all voted for a group of bills that included the repeal of two authorizations for the use of military force (AUMF): the 1991 first Gulf War (AUMF) and the Cold War-era military 1957 AUMF for the Middle East.

Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV), the state’s only congressional Republican, voted for a similar confederate-statues bill last year

One of the items of confederate iconography that would be removed under the measure is a bust of former Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney. He authored the Dred Scott decision, which stated that African Americans were not citizens of the nation where they lived and did not have rights under the Constitution. 

“It’s a symbol that is incompatible with the overall symbol of this building,” Amodei said off of the House floor Thursday.

The Taney bust, which sits in the Old Senate Chamber, would be replaced with a bust of Justice Thurgood Marshall.  

With regard to the AUMFs, Amodei said the older authorizations were dated and unnecessary, which is why the repeal bills were passed under suspension of the rules, an expedited process reserved for noncontroversial legislation requiring a two-thirds vote to pass. 

That contrasts with the 2002 Iraq War AUMF. The House last month repealed that authorization on a 269 to 161 vote, with 49 Republicans voting with Democrats. Amodei voted against the measure and cited a desire to maintain “discretion” for the president to act to protect the nation. The Senate still needs to approve the repeal.

Votes in the House came as the Senate was not in session for the July 4th holiday. Both chambers are off next week.

Infrastructure

The House passed a Democrat-drafted infrastructure bill, known as the INVEST in America Act, on a 221 to 202 vote. 

Titus said that the House measure would likely be part of future talks with the Senate. Once the upper chamber finishes turning its $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure framework into legislative text, the Senate could begin negotiations with the House and broker a bipartisan compromise that could pass both chambers.

But first, Democrats are focused on passing a budget bill by the end of July. The budget would give instructions to various committees to draft pieces of a broader infrastructure package, including child care, affordable housing and other parts of the Democrats’ agenda, that Republicans have said they would not support. That measure would be passed using reconciliation, which would allow the Senate Democratic majority to avoid a filibuster and pass a bill with just Democratic votes.

All of Nevada’s House Democrats voted for the infrastructure bill. Only two Republicans voted with all Democrats for the measure. Amodei opposed it over a concern that it could encourage Democrats to pass their reconciliation package.

“The problem is, just as we sit here at the end of June, it sounds like it’s ‘hey, we're going for broke on everything for our agenda,’” Amodei said.

Amodei acknowledged, though, that the bill includes the $21 million he requested for five projects in his district.

Those projects include $6 million for the Arlington Avenue bridge over the Truckee River in Reno. That bridge was among a list of 24 in his district deemed to be in poor condition by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association’s (ARTBA) most recent “Bridge Report.”

The measure also includes the $20 million Titus sought for four projects, including $7 million for the Charleston Boulevard underpass in Las Vegas, which is prone to flooding.

Titus said the bill would help improve Interstate 15 between Las Vegas and California and would help finish the Arizona piece of Interstate 11 to better connect Las Vegas and Phoenix. The two remain the largest cities in the nation not joined by an interstate highway.

The package also would help build a privately-financed high-speed rail line along I-15 between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. A provision secured by Titus would open up the Passenger Rail Improvement, Modernization and Expansion (PRIME) grant program to privately funded higher-speed intercity passenger rail carriers if they apply in partnership with eligible governmental entities.

Horsford secured $13.5 million for two projects in the bill. Most of the funding—$12 million—was for retrofitting street lights in North Las Vegas with energy-efficient LED bulbs. 

While Rep. Susie Lee did not request funds for transportation, the House did approve a climate change-related amendment she offered — on a 220 to 200 vote. The provision would require that any wastewater infrastructure funded using the Clean Water State Revolving Fund or other Clean Water Act grant programs undergo a climate resiliency assessment.

“More than 80 percent of the West is under some degree of drought and in my district Lake Mead sits at the lowest level on record,” Lee said on the House floor.

“My amendment will ensure that future wastewater infrastructure is designed and constructed to withstand future impacts of climate change,” Lee said, including drought, rising sea levels and more intense hurricane seasons. 

The bill would provide $117 billion for drinking water infrastructure and $56 billion for wastewater infrastructure. 

Jan. 6 Insurrection and other votes

The House voted 222 to 190, with only two Republicans joining all Democrats, to create a Democrat-controlled select committee to investigate the causes of the Jan. 6 insurrection and the security needs of the Capitol complex. 

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) Thursday named eight of the 13 members of the panel, which included Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), one of only two Republicans who have been outspoken critics of former President Donald Trump’s role in the riot. 

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), leader of House Republicans, said he was surprised that Cheney had agreed to join the panel. McCarthy, who has not said whether he would name the five remaining members, denied reports that he had threatened to remove any GOP member from their committee assignments if they accepted a role on the Democrats’ Jan. 6 panel. Pelosi has a veto over McCarthy’s picks.

Cheney told reporters later that she has not, as yet, been removed from any committees. The Wyoming Republican’s appointment comes after the House GOP voted in May to remove her as chair of the House Republican conference, the third-highest position in House GOP leadership, over her criticism of Trump. 

House Republicans leaders, and Amodei, want Trump’s help to win back the majority in next year’s election and Cheney’s criticism made that more difficult. 

Amodei voted against creating the special panel. He also voted against creating an independent commission in May. He argued that both panels, especially one controlled by eight Democratically-appointed members, would be used to generate political ammunition against Republicans ahead of the 2022 midterms.

“If you had any doubt what the objective was a month ago, this should clear up all that,” Amodei said.

“It's flat out ‘we got the majority, oh, by the way, we have approval authority over who you appoint,’” Amodei continued. “I mean, come on.”

Panel chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), who serves as chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said that the Jan. 6 committee has a quorum without the GOP-appointed members and would not wait very long for McCarthy to act. 

The House also approved the IG Independence and Empowerment Act, which would make it harder to remove inspectors general (IG). IGs are the independent watchdogs that police federal agencies. The bill was approved 221 to 182. All Democrats backed the bill along with three Republicans.

“In six short weeks, President Trump fired or sidelined four IGs and acting IGs who were simply doing their jobs,” Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, said during debate on the House floor. 

“President Trump’s actions struck at the heart of why we have IGs, to provide independent oversight and a check on executive branch waste, fraud and abuse,” Maloney continued.

Amodei voted against the bill because he doesn’t want to empower unelected officials at the expense of the president, an elected official who has to answer to voters. 

“Don't basically make unelected people more powerful than the electeds,” Amodei said.

Miscellany 

In her first year on the Appropriations Committee, Lee secured $1 million in a bill approved by the committee to help equip a workforce training center in Henderson affiliated with the College of Southern Nevada.

“This past year showed more clearly than ever that we need to do everything we can to diversify our economy, and this funding bill passed today will help us do just that by funding the creation of the Henderson Workforce Training Center and expanding access to capital for our local businesses,” Lee said.

Lee asked for $2 million for the project as part of the newly reestablished earmark program, known as member designated projects. 

The measure, known as the Financial Services and General Government funding bill, would provide a total of $29.1 billion, an increase of $4.8 billion over the previous year. Among the agencies funded by the bill, the Treasury Department would receive $15.4 billion, $1.9 more than last year. 

Lee also helped get $1 million to upgrade systems at the Boulder City Wastewater Treatment Plant as part of the $43.4 billion Department of Interior (DOI) and related agencies bill. 

Lee spearheaded a letter signed by 16 other members—including all of the state’s House members—to President Joe Biden calling for action to help mitigate the drought currently plaguing Western states.

“We urge you to engage with Western lawmakers and stakeholders to identify and implement timely, bipartisan solutions to this crisis,” the letter said. “This issue cannot wait. In the face of climate change’s threats, we must become more resilient to drought and plan for the water supply we will likely have moving forward.” 

The letter came as Gov. Steve Sisolak and a group of six other Western state governors participated virtually Wednesday in a White House event to discuss the worsening wildfire season.

“The State of Nevada remains committed to taking immediate action in order to protect our communities, improve emergency preparedness, and address this growing threat,” Sisolak tweeted. 

Biden said that drought and record heat spurred by climate change is gripping the West, exacerbating the wildfire season.

“The threat of western wildfires this year is as severe as it's ever been,” Biden said. 

Biden announced that federal firefighters would be eligible for retention incentives and get bonuses to raise their pay to $15 from $13 an hour for this year. The White House will work with Congress on a more long-term increase. 

"We can't cut corners when it comes to managing our wildfires or supporting our firefighters," Biden said.

Lastly, Nevada had the highest GDP growth of all 50 states and D.C. in the first quarter of the year, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Spurred by a 2.34 percent increase in the accommodation and food services sector, Nevada’s gross domestic product rose by 10.9 percent in the first three months of the year.

Sisolak said that the state must focus on increasing vaccinations to keep the momentum going,

 “In order to ensure we continue down a successful path, we must remain focused on vaccinating our residents, putting people back to work, diversifying our economy, and ensuring that Nevada’s recovery reaches every individual and family,” he said in a release.

The pandemic hit the state's tourist and entertainment-focused economy hard and, for several months in 2020, had the worst unemployment rate in the nation. But as the state has re-opened with the prevalence of the COVID-19 vaccines, tourists have started to return. The state has also received billions in federal aid, including $4 billion from the most recent package, known as the American Rescue Plan, enacted in March.

For a full rundown of the measures the delegates supported or opposed this week, check out The Nevada Independent’s congressional vote tracker and other information below.

REP. DINA TITUS

Legislation sponsored:

H.R. 4291 – To prohibit certain practices relating to certain commodity promotion programs, to require greater transparency by those programs, and for other purposes.

Legislation co-sponsored:

H.R. 4311 – To amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide for coverage of dental, vision, and hearing care under the Medicare program.

H.R. 4306 – To expand employment opportunities for spouses of Foreign Service officers, and for other purposes.

H.R. 4225 – To amend chapter 44 of title 18, United States Code, to prohibit the distribution of 3D printer plans for the printing of firearms, and for other purposes.

H.R. 4220 – To amend the National and Community Service Act of 1990 to establish a National Climate Service Corps to help communities withstand and respond to changes in the Earth's climate with respect to natural disasters, and for other purposes.

REP. MARK AMODEI

Legislation co-sponsored:

H.R. 4300 – To direct the Secretary of the Interior to make free National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Passes available to members of the Armed Forces, and for other purposes.

REP. SUSIE LEE

Legislation co-sponsored:

H.R. 4341 – To provide support with respect to the prevention of, treatment for, and recovery from, substance use disorder.