Indy DC Download: Cortez Masto unsure of House-proposed mining royalty in Democrats’ $3.5 trillion social spending bill

Good morning, and welcome to the Indy DC Download newsletter, a weekly look at what's going on in the nation's capitol as it relates to Nevada.

If a colleague or associate emailed this newsletter to you, please click here to sign up and receive your own copy of Indy DC Download in your inbox.

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) pushed back on a House proposal to include a new hard rock mining royalty in the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion social spending package. 

In a brief interview, she said that she was still reviewing the House version of the so-called Build Back Better Act, including the tax, environmental and mining proposals. She will help draft the Senate tax and mining policy sections of the Senate version as a member of the Finance Committee and Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

When asked about the proposed royalty included by the House Natural Resources Committee in its part of the $3.5 trillion package, Cortez Masto said she does not oppose the idea, but that the industry and other “stakeholders” should be allowed to weigh in.

“I have talked to Senator Manchin about this.” Cortez Masto said, adding that Manchin is open to adding a royalty under the General Mining Act of 1872, which currently applies no royalty to mines on federal lands.

“I think it is fair to, if we were going to open the door to royalties and the mining act—which I know Senator Manchin wants to do, and I'm not opposed to—that we should have a hearing on it. And so that's what I've asked Senator Manchin” to do, she continued. 

“Let's just be transparent, be fair, and have a hearing in committee on it and bring all the stakeholders so we can hear from everyone and not do something like this, that there's no input from all the key stakeholders,” she said.

Nevada Mining Association President Tyre Gray said recently he does not support the royalty. 

The House panel included the mining royalty as a way to offset the cost of the bill. The royalty on hard rock mining could raise around $2 billion over 10 years, according to the House Committee.  

The House bill would also establish a hard rock mineral reclamation fee, raising around $200 million over 10 years.

Her comments came as the House Ways and Means Committee finished its part of the $3.5 trillion measure. But the House held no roll call votes as it wrapped up its recess. The lower chamber will be back next week. 

The Senate was back from its recess and confirmed three of President Joe Biden's nominees, including James Kvaal, undersecretary of education. Both Cortez Masto and Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) voted for Kvaal, whose nomination was approved 58 to 37.

A former official in President Barack Obama’s administration, Kvaal saw his nomination held up by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) over her push to crackdown on student loan servicers. She then signaled her support for Kvaal last month after talks with the Department of Education. 

Still deciding

Cortez Masto stressed that she hasn’t decided on the specifics of either the House or Senate bills. 

“So this is my challenge,” Cortez Masto said. “There's so much out there and so I'm trying to make sure I understand everybody's proposals, including the” White House’s. 

She added that she would judge the provisions of the package on whether they help Nevada. 

“Here's what I know, at the end of the day...does what we do benefit our state?” she said. 

Cortez Masto said that the Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over tax, Medicare and Medicaid policy, is exploring how it plans to offset the package costs and whether they will follow the House or use other revenue-raising provisions. 

“I think it should be paid for,” she said when asked about the package, but she declined to say that the cost would need to be entirely offset in order to win her vote. 

She stressed that the package was far from done and that it remained to be seen what could pass the Senate—especially as Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) have said they would not support a $3.5 trillion measure. 

It's unlikely that a hearing could be held before the reconciliation package reaches the House and Senate floors. But it will be up to Manchin to decide whether to include the mining revenue raiser in the resources committee’s section of the reconciliation bill. If not, the royalty provision will need to be worked out between the House and Senate since both chambers need to pass identical bills.

The negotiation will be delicate. Democrats are using reconciliation, a budget process that allows spending and tax legislation to pass on a simple majority rather than needing 60 votes to overcome a filibuster. But with the Senate split between the parties 50 to 50, every vote will be needed to pass the package. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) can only lose three votes in the House if all Republicans oppose the package, as expected.

Timing on when the House and Senate vote on the package will be determined by when Democratic leaders line up the votes to pass it. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said that he expects a vote before the end of September. 

House tax plan

Individuals earning more than $400,000 a year would pay a 39.6 percent tax rate and those making more than $5 million would be subject to a 3 percent surcharge under the tax portion of the $3.5 trillion social spending package approved by the Ways and Means Committee this week.

The new top individual tax rate, the new surcharge, raising the corporate tax rate to 26.5 percent for companies with more than $5 million in revenue and other revenue-raising provisions would offset about $2.2 trillion of the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion Build Back Better Act.

Rep. Steven Horsford (D-NV), a Ways and Means Committee member, underscored the spending in the bill that he argued would help middle-class taxpayers in the state, including two housing-related tax credits.

“It is no secret that our nation is facing a housing crisis, and we must expand tax credits that increases affordable housing for individuals of every race and income level and prevents homelessness and evictions,” Horsford said during the panel’s bill drafting session.

Nevada has a shortage of affordable housing. The state had a deficit of about 79,620 affordable units available to extremely low-income renters — people earning 30 percent or less of area median income — the Southern Nevada Home Builders Association said earlier this year.

The bill eased limits on the low-Income housing tax credit (LIHTC). The LIHTC is the primary federal program for encouraging private investment in the development of affordable rental housing for low-income households.

The measure also created a new credit, the neighborhood homes tax credit, to encourage private-sector investment to rehabilitate deteriorated single-family homes in distressed neighborhoods.

Horsford said the credits were “critical for my constituents in Nevada, as we continue to close the development gaps in low-income and multifamily rental housing communities.”

During the debate, Horsford also tangled with Republicans on amendments that failed to attach a means test to the enhanced child tax credit, extended through 2025 under the bill. He also spoke out against an amendment to strike language to allow union members to deduct dues from their federal taxes.

On the union dues proposal, Horsford said that the bill, as written, gives workers the same tax treatment as that of management, which is permitted to "deduct management and legal costs such as those involved in resisting unionization campaigns and negotiating with unions." 

House transportation

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved its $60 billion reconciliation measure on Wednesday. Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV),  a panel member, voted in favor of the measure. 

Titus, in a release, called the reconciliation package “a once-in-a-generation opportunity” which will “spur economic development, address the escalating climate crisis, and provide a sustainable long-term recovery for working families.” 

The bill included $10 billion for a grant program to improve access to affordable housing and enhance the mobility of residents in low-income communities, $9.5 billion for economic development in distressed communities and $6 billion to advance local surface transportation projects.

Much of the Democrats' transportation-related priorities are included in the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill. The Senate approved the measure last month and the House could take it up as soon as next week.

Titus also voted to approve the House Homeland Security Committees portion of the package, which consisted of $865 million in for cybersecurity enhancements. 

Miscellany

Cortez Masto and Rosen signed on to a letter with six other Democrats from western states to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack urging them to raise the pay for federal wildland firefighters. 

“The disparity in pay between federal and non-federal wildland firefighters has led to a shortage of federal firefighting personnel and limits our nation’s ability to respond to these increasingly devastating natural disasters,” the letter said.

The Senate's $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill provided $600 million to raise pay for federal wildland firefighters. The letter said that the senators want the agencies to be ready to implement the measure once it becomes law.

The letter comes as the western part of the country has suffered from drought and wildfires.

Rep. Susie Lee failed to report personal stock trades on time, according to The Insider

“Across seven certified reports to the US House between February 2020 and May, Lee did not disclose many of her trades until several days after deadlines mandated by the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act of 2012, also known as the STOCK Act,” the news website said.

“She also disclosed a few trades a couple of weeks or more late.” 

Lee's office told the website that the trades were made by a third-party money manager, which can take time to report transactions, and Lee also said she had no input on the trades herself. 

Under the STOCK Act, government officials must report financial transactions totaling more than $1,000 no later than 30 days after receiving notification of the transaction and no later than 45 after the transaction date. Violations are subject to a $200 fine.

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.2748 – A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to modify the rules for postponing certain deadlines by reason of disaster.

Legislation co-sponsored:

S.2754 – A bill to provide funding for the deployment of Next Generation 9-1-1, and for other purposes.

S.2752 – A bill to amend the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 to protect civil rights and otherwise prevent meaningful harm to third parties, and for other purposes.

S.2726 – Public Transportation Expansion Act

SEN. JACKY ROSEN

Legislation co-sponsored:

S.2756 – A bill to posthumously award a Congressional Gold Medal, in commemoration of the service members who perished as a result of the attack in Afghanistan on August 26, 2021, during the evacuation of citizens of the United States and Afghan allies at Hamid Karzai International Airport, and for other purposes.

S.2752 – A bill to amend the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 to protect civil rights and otherwise prevent meaningful harm to third parties, and for other purposes.

REP. MARK AMODEI

Legislation sponsored:

H.R.5243 – To modernize the Fallon Range Training Complex in Churchill County, Nevada, through the withdrawal and reservation of additional public lands for military use, to provide for transfer of ownership of certain Federal lands in northern Nevada, to authorize the disposal of certain Federal lands in northern Nevada for economic development, to promote conservation in northern Nevada, and for other purposes.

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

Good morning, and welcome to the Indy DC Download newsletter, a weekly look at what's going on in the nation's capitol as it relates to Nevada.

If a colleague or associate emailed this newsletter to you, please click here to sign up and receive your own copy of Indy DC Download in your inbox.

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

House approves budget blueprint kicking off sprint to draft Democrats’ $3.5 trillion social programs bill

East front of the U.S. Capitol.

House Democrats approved their budget plan Tuesday after negotiating a deal with 10 moderates who threatened to kill the measure by withholding support until the House passed the Senate’s $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package.

The budget vote, 220 to 212, triggers the reconciliation process, allowing committees of jurisdiction to begin drafting a $3.5 trillion package that can pass the Senate with a simple majority, rather than with the 60 votes typically needed to overcome a filibuster.

The reconciliation package will include an extension of the child tax credit, paid family leave, and other pieces of President Joe Biden's agenda that Republicans were unlikely to support, as opposed to the funds for roads, bridges, airports and broadband in the $1.2 trillion package. The Senate passed the measure and the budget resolution on Aug. 9.

Despite the legislative victory, tough negotiations lie ahead for Democrats. They control 50 votes in the Senate and will need all of them to pass their agenda. But Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Sen. Kyrsten ​​Sinema (D-AZ) said that $3.5 trillion is too much to spend for the reconciliation package. Their desire for fiscal discipline will clash with other Democrats' desires, in both chambers, to spend the full amount called for in the resolution.

Rep. Steven Horsford (D-NV), who, as a member of the Ways and Means Committee and the House Budget Committee, will help write the reconciliation package, declined to say whether he thinks $3.5 trillion is the right amount.

"This is about providing child care to moms; it's about providing paid leave to working families; it's about providing more affordable housing which we desperately need in Nevada and other places in the country," Horsford said Tuesday in a brief interview when asked about the cost. 

Rep. Susie Lee (D-NV) said Congress would determine the right amount, which she added should be offset with spending cuts or tax increases on the wealthy, proposed in the resolution. 

“The right amount is what we can get passed, what's going to help the American public and what we can get paid for,” Lee said off the House floor Tuesday.

The House vote came a few hours after Gov. Steve Sisolak participated in a Democratic National Committee event Tuesday at a barbershop in East Las Vegas as part of the “Build Back Better” national bus tour touting the Democratic plan by the same name.

Las Vegas Councilwoman, Erica Mosca founder of Leaders in Training and Paul Madrid, owner of Eastside Cutters Barbershop behind Gov. Steve Sisolak speaking at the Democratic National Committee “Build Back Better” national bus tour event in Las Vegas on Aug. 24, 2021. (Jannelle Calderon/ The Nevada Independent)

Community leaders including Las Vegas Councilwoman Olivia Diaz, Mi Familia Vota State Director Cecia Alvarado and Erica Mosca, founder of Leaders in Training, joined the governor to rally support for Biden’s agenda, including passage of the reconciliation bill.

“President Biden and Vice President Harris have just been absolutely terrific in terms of giving us the tools and the flexibility that we need to move forward and to move on,” Sisolak said at the event. 

Sisolak said that the funding could greatly benefit the state’s education system by adding mental health resources and improving teachers’ pay and the counselor to student ratio.

“Our education system is woefully underfunded. We need to get more money into our schools and actually into the classrooms,” Sisolak said. “Teachers do an absolutely incredible job but they're overworked and underpaid for the work that they do. We need to do more.”

The Democratic-drafted budget resolution, typically used by the majority party to outline its priorities, received no Republican votes. 

Democratic members of Nevada's congressional delegation celebrated House passage of the plan, which they argued would help Nevada, including universal pre-K for three and four-year-olds. 

“I think the biggest bang for an education dollar is early childhood education,” Lee said.

“There're a lot of great things in this package that are going to help all of our middle-class families in Nevada who have been struggling,” Lee continued.

The vote came after hours of intense negotiations between Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and nine other centrist Democrats, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) ended the standoff that threatened to derail the Democrats’ agenda. 

The moderates agreed to support the budget resolution and the speaker agreed to hold a vote on the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill by Sept. 27. 

While not among the 10 House Democratic centrists who threatened to vote against the budget, Lee, who had also advocated for immediate House action on the bipartisan Senate bill, said she was pleased with the compromise. 

“I believe that this bipartisan package is something that was negotiated with the Senate, with the president, that we negotiated for months and months,” adding that Pelosi’s assurance of a vote at the end of September date-certain House action on the bipartisan bill. 

Lee is a member of the bipartisan group of moderates known as the Problem Solvers Caucus and the Senate bipartisan bill is similar to a proposal the Problem Solvers released in June.

Horsford said that the dispute was much ado about nothing since any funds from the bipartisan bill could not be spent until Oct. 1, the beginning of the next fiscal year. 

“Nothing can even be spent in the bipartisan bill until after October, so we're really really arguing over semantics at this point,” Horsford said before the deal was finalized. 

Correction posted at 9:08 a.m. on 8/25/2021: This story has been updated to reflect that Sen. Kyrsten ​​Sinema represents Arizona, not Nevada.

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

Good morning, and welcome to the Indy DC Download newsletter, a weekly look at what's going on in the nation's capitol as it relates to Nevada.

If a colleague or associate emailed this newsletter to you, please click here to sign up and receive your own copy in your inbox.

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.

Latinos, other minorities fuel Nevada’s population growth ahead of redistricting

Latino populations in Clark and Washoe counties surged by 23 percent and 30 percent over the last decade, and white residents declined by 14.5 percent and 3.8 percent over the same period, respectively, according to data released Thursday by the Census Bureau, kicking off the battle to redraw legislative districts across the nation.

Nearly 320,000 people moved to Clark County over the last decade, bringing its population to 2.3 million, up from 1.95 million, a 16 percent increase. More than 65,000 people moved to Washoe, boosting its population to more than 486,000, a 15.4 percent increase. 

Although the population increases were not enough to warrant the addition of another U.S. House district, the shifts in Clark and Washoe — the two counties where more than 88 percent of the population resides — reflected trends at the state and national levels.

Nevada’s white population shrank by 11 percent to 51.2 percent of the total, and the nation’s share fell by 8.6 percent to about 58 percent of the population. That decline came as the Silver State’s Latino population grew by 24.4 percent, and the nation’s grew by 23 percent. Latinos make up 28.7 percent of Nevada’s population, and 18.7 percent of the country’s.  

Nevada residents identifying as African-American increased by 39.4.percent to 9.8 percent of the population and the Asian population increased by 39.5 percent to 8.8 percent of the population. 

The data will be used by Nevada’s majority-Democrat Legislature and the governor’s office to redraw the legislative districts at the federal and state levels. A special session of the Legislature is expected to take up the matter in the fall.

Experts believe that state lawmakers will likely dilute the 1st District, a safe Democratic seat held by Rep. Dina Titus, in order to strengthen the 3rd and possibly the 4th districts, which are less secure for Democrats. 

Redrawing district lines is driven by a constitutional requirement that each district have about the same population. In April, the Census Bureau reported that the state’s population grew 15 percent to more than 3.1 million. 

“If you're a Democrat, I think the reasonable goal is how do you keep the delegation three-to-one Democratic for the rest of the decade,” said Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics. 

The 3rd District, represented by Rep. Susie Lee, was won by President Donald Trump in 2016 and is typically viewed as the state’s most competitive House district. President Joe Biden and Lee narrowly won the district, which includes fast-growing Henderson, in 2020.

“As it is, NV-3 is among the most closely divided districts in the county,” Kondik said in an analysis released Thursday.

The 4th District is represented by Rep. Steven Horsford and is more favorable to Democrats. Created after the 2010 Census, Democrats have won three of the last four election cycles.

David Wasserman, who analyzes House races for the Cook Political Report said the dynamic of Lee and Horsford wanting to make their seats safer and Titus having to give up friendly voters could produce tension.

“Keep in mind that both Horsford and Lee want more Democrats in their districts,” Wasserman said. “So they're going to be looking to take Democrats away, or at least stuff more Republican voters into, the 1st District to try and make their districts safer for Democrats.”

He also noted that lawmakers will likely try to keep as many Latino voters in the 1st District as possible, given that advocates, such as the Culinary Union, would like to have a Latino person fill the seat after Titus, who is in her 70s, leaves.

“They want an opportunity to win that seat for a Hispanic candidate, there's no doubt about it,” Wasserman said of the district. 

The delayed release of Census data may hinder efforts by Republicans to challenge Democrat-drawn and approved maps, which require a simple majority vote, in court. The candidate filing period for the 2022 election opens in early March 2022, meaning that district boundaries (and likely any legal challenges to their placement) will need to be resolved beforehand.

Nevada’s district boundaries were last set in 2011 by a group of “special masters” appointed by Carson City Judge James Russell after then-Gov. Brian Sandoval, a Republican, vetoed proposed congressional and legislative district maps proposed by the majority-Democrat Legislature.

Intern Sean Golonka contributed to this report.

Update: This story was updated on August 12, 2021 at 4:45 p.m. to include an infographic.

Indy DC Download: The U.S. Senate is close to approving a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill

Good morning, and welcome to the Indy DC Download newsletter, a weekly look at what's going on in the nation's capitol as it relates to Nevada.

If a colleague or associate emailed this newsletter to you, please click here to sign up and receive your own copy of Indy DC Download in your inbox.

The U.S. Senate is on the verge of passing a massive $1.2 trillion infrastructure package and will soon begin working on a budget blueprint that will trigger a process to allow Senate Democrats to pass a filibuster-proof $3.5 trillion bill to beef up the social safety net. 

In a speech on the Senate floor Thursday, Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV), one of the 22 Democratic and GOP senators who negotiated and drafted the measure, praised the group's work. 

 "It's not hyperbole to say that our bipartisan bill will be the most significant investment in American infrastructure since we built the interstate highway system," Rosen said.

The legislation, known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, would provide $$550 billion in new funds, with the remainder coming from money already appropriated for pandemic relief. The $550 billion includes $110 for 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 (EV) infrastructure.

For Nevada, the measure would provide $2.5 billion for highways and $225 million for bridge repair and replacement over five years, according to a breakdown of the spending from the White House. For transit, the state would receive $462 million over five years. 

The state would also receive $38 million over five years to expand Nevada’s EV charging network and could apply for up to $2.5 billion in EV charging grant funds provided in the bill.

With regard to broadband, Nevada is poised to receive at least $100 million to help improve and expand broadband coverage.

According to the White House, the state currently has at least 123,822 residents who lack internet access at broadband speed. Under the bill, 825,000 or 26 percent of Nevadas will be eligible for the Affordability Connectivity Benefit, which will help low-income families afford internet access. 

Despite the Senate closing in on passing the infrastructure bill—final passage could come as soon as Saturday—the U.S. House will not likely come back from its August recess to consider the bill. 

At a press conference Friday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) underscored her plan to wait for the Senate to pass the larger $3.5 trillion package before taking up the bipartisan measure. The larger bill would fund an extension of the child tax credit, child care, affordable housing and other Democratic priorities Republicans oppose. 

“Whatever you can achieve in a bipartisan way, bravo, we salute it, we applaud it, we hope that it will pass soon,” Pelosi said. “But, at the same time, we’re not going forward with leaving people behind.” 

But first, the Senate and House must pass a budget resolution that would provide instructions to congressional committees to draft the $3.5 trillion package. The resolution would also allow the Senate to pass that measure on a simple majority, a process known as reconciliation. The Senate will take up the budget as soon as it passes the infrastructure bill.

More infrastructure

Asked about whether she believed Pelosi should act as soon as possible on the bipartisan bill, Rosen, who served one term in the House, said she’d leave the decision to the speaker.

“I've never been one to second-guess Speaker Pelosi,” Rosen said off the Senate floor Thursday. “All I can say is we're going to do our job here. We're going to send it over there and then she's going to do what she thinks is appropriate, but we need to take care of the business we have to do here first.”

Rosen Thursday also touted provisions she included in the bipartisan bill, such as the Cyber Sense Act. That's legislation she introduced to create a voluntary program at the Department of Energy to test the cybersecurity of products and technologies intended for use in the nation's primary generation and transmission infrastructure, known as the bulk power system.

Another Rosen-introduced measure added to the bipartisan package would update the National Travel and Tourism Infrastructure Strategic Plan with both immediate-term and long-term strategies. Those strategies would guide the Department of Transportation (DOT) and other agencies on infrastructure investments to revive the travel and tourism industries in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

She also helped add language to the bill that would require DOT to consider “increasing travel and tourism” as a criterion when selecting grant fund recipients. 

As a member of the 22 drafters of the infrastructure bill, Rosen served on the working groups that drafted the broadband and airports sections and it was on those that she had the most influence, according to her office. 

Of the $65 billion for broadband, $42.45 billion would go to state broadband deployment grants to help them connect unserved and underserved communities. That provision includes a Rosen-drafted provision prioritizing contractors with a record of compliance with labor and employment laws.

Another $14.2 billion would provide a $30 a month benefit for households up to 200 percent of the poverty line and $1 billion would be used to create so-called middle-mile infrastructure to facilitate last-mile connections between the backbone of the internet and a local connection site. Rosen recently introduced an identical middle-mile bill. 

The $25 billion for airports includes $15 billion in flexible spending to allow airports to fund their key construction, expansion, upgrade, and repair projects.

Her office said that funding with few strings attached was a priority for the airports in Nevada, which will help as tourists increasingly begin to return following the pandemic. 

“This is something that she spent a lot of time on and making sure that this worked for Nevada, for our large airports,” her office noted.

Another $5 billion is designated for larger airports to help finance higher-cost terminal projects and another $5 billion would go to upgrades to the air traffic control system.

The package also included a bill Rep. Susie Lee (D-NV) helped unveil in the House and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) introduced in the Senate to address drought in western states. The bill, known as the Large Scale Water Recycling and Drought Resiliency Investment Act, would provide $750 million for a new competitive grant program within the Department of the Interior for large-scale water recycling projects.

“Southern Nevada – and the entire desert southwest – is facing an unprecedented drought that will require innovative solutions,” Lee said in a release. “This bill will pave the way for increased investment in such regional water recycling projects that will create reliable, virtually drought-proof water supplies.”

Rep Steven Horsford (D-NV) and Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV) are co-sponsors of the measure in the House and Rosen is a co-sponsor in the Senate. 

The Senate is scheduled to take a procedural vote on the bill Saturday, which needs 60 votes to pass. That means that 10 Republicans would need to join with all 50 Democrats to vote to end debate on the measure. If the bill is advanced, passage could come the same day if all senators agree to expedite the process.

But it’s unclear if all would agree. Republican Sen. Bill Hagerty of Tennessee appeared to be the main squeaky wheel holding up an agreement on a series of amendment votes and passage of the bill Thursday night.

“I could not in good conscience allow that to happen at this hour, especially when the objective of the majority is to hurry up and pass this bill so they can move quickly to their $3.5 trillion tax-and-spend spree,” Hagerty said Thursday. 

He also cited a concern about an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) that said it would add $256 billion to the deficit over 10 years. 

Not invisible 

The Department of Justice and the Department of Interior are calling for nominations to a commission to reduce crime against Native Americans and Native Alaskans. The panel was established under the Not Invisible Act, a bill introduced by Cortez Masto and signed into law in October 2020.

“The crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women deserves a serious response from our government, and I’m eager to see this commission get to work to protect Natives in Nevada and across the country,” Cortez Masto said in a release. “These nominations and conversations are critical to implementing our bipartisan legislation.”

The law, also spearheaded by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), mandates the creation of a commission that includes: representatives of tribal, state, and local law enforcement; Tribal judges; health care and mental health practitioners with experience working with Indian survivors of trafficking and sexual assault; urban Indian organizations focused on violence against women and children; Indian survivors of human trafficking; and family members of missing and murdered Indian people. 

Native Americans and Alaskans are more likely to experience violence than the broader population. According to the National Institute of Justice, more than 4 in 5 American Indian and Alaska Native women have experienced violence, and more than 1 in 2 have experienced sexual violence. The situation has resulted in many Native women missing, though precisely how many are unclear since most go unreported to authorities.  

The commission will hold hearings, take testimony and receive evidence in order to develop recommendations for the federal government to combat violent crime against Indians and within Indian lands. 

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.2665 – A bill to require the Secretary of Energy to establish a grant program to incentivize small business participation in demand side management programs, and for other purposes.

Legislation co-sponsored:

S.2634 – A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to direct the Secretary of Education to issue guidance and recommendations for institutions of higher education on removing criminal and juvenile justice questions from their application for admissions process.

S.2616 – A bill to create livable communities through coordinated public investment and streamlined requirements, and for other purposes.

S.2606 – A bill to require an unclassified interagency report on the political influence operations of the Government of the People's Republic of China and the Chinese Communist Party with respect to the United States, and for other purposes.

SEN. JACKY ROSEN

Legislation sponsored:

S.2668 – A bill to require the Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to provide assistance relating to broadband access, and for other purposes.

Legislation co-sponsored:

S.2639 – A bill to establish a State public option through Medicaid to provide Americans with the choice of a high-quality, low-cost health insurance plan.

REP. DINA TITUS

Legislation co-sponsored:

H.R. 4922 – To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to expand the residential energy efficient property credit and energy credit, and for other purposes.

Nevada congressional lawmakers welcome new CDC eviction ban

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced Tuesday it is banning evictions in areas ​with “substantial or high levels of community transmission” of COVID-19​ for 60 days, heeding the calls of lawmakers, including Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV), who backed extending a national moratorium.

“Southern Nevadans are still struggling to make ends meet as the Delta variant continues to spread,” Titus said on Twitter Tuesday evening. “Now is not the time to put families out on the street. I thank @POTUS for hearing our call and taking action to extend the eviction moratorium to keep people safe and housed.”

The moratorium is expected to affect about 90 percent of the population and 80 percent of counties. Under the CDC's definition of substantial spread, a county needs at least 50 new cases per every 100,000 people. High transmission is more than 100 cases per 100,000 people over the last week.

All but five of Nevada’s 17 counties have high transmission, according to CDC data. Humboldt, Pershing, Lander and Eureka counties all have moderate spread. Esmeralda County has low spread.

However, the CDC order does include language that could make it difficult for some to get protection. The order said that the moratorium “does not apply in any state, local, territorial, or tribal area with a moratorium on residential evictions that provides the same or greater level of public-health protection than the requirements listed in this Order or to the extent its application is prohibited by Federal court order.” 

In a recent eviction case, the Las Vegas Justice Court interpreted AB486 as a state moratorium. The legislation passed this spring is designed to prevent landlords from evicting while tenants’ rental assistance applications are still being processed. 

The new moratorium will likely take the pressure off of an estimated 61,000 Nevada households — or 12 percent of renter households in Nevada — that are behind on rent, according to a National Equity Atlas analysis of June 2021 U.S. Census Household Pulse Survey data.

Titus last week said she backed another CDC national eviction ban, citing the high 7.8 percent unemployment rate in Las Vegas. And she quickly called on Congress to act after President Joe Biden said that the CDC did not have the authority to extend the national ban following a June Supreme Court ruling.

Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV), like most other Republicans took the opposite view. He argued that the ban would hurt landlords and continues what he believes is a dangerous and unsustainable trend that will hurt the economy and delay a return to normal.

"I know there is not a lot of respect for the Bill of Rights floating around in D.C. right now, and apparently the part about private property rights receives the same respect as free speech and the 2nd Amendment," Amodei said in a statement.

“To continue to confiscate the value of those folks who have invested in mortgage financing and rental property financing must come to an end," he continued. "Apparently, there are those who think that building a culture where nobody has to pay for a thing of value is a positive thing. I disagree. We need to start treating all victims of the pandemic with some semblance of common sense and fair play.”

Rep. Steven Horsford (D-NV), whose family was evicted when he was young, also celebrated the decision. 

“Tonight, millions of families can breathe a sigh of relief,” he said Tuesday night on Twitter.

In a release last week, he said his eviction experience remains a traumatic memory. 

“It’s the scariest thing to know that you can be kicked out of your home with all your belongings and nowhere to go,” Horsford said. “Eviction is a stressor that no child should experience.”

Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) also welcomed the announcement. 

“The new CDC eviction moratorium is welcome news, because ensuring that Nevadans are housed and safe during the ongoing pandemic is critical,” Rosen said in a statement provided by her office. 

Last week, when asked about an extension, she called for focusing on getting funds that have been appropriated to those in need. 

To date, only about $3 billion of almost $47 billion in emergency rental assistance appropriated so far has been distributed to stave off evictions, according to the U.S. Treasury Department.

Nevada has distributed about one-third of the approximately $480 million it has designated for rental assistance as of June 30. Clark County had a backlog of about 8,000 applications as of last week.   

At a news event on Tuesday focused on the distribution of federal American Rescue Plan funds, Gov. Steve Sisolak declined to comment on the moratorium and said that he had not yet read the order.

At the event, former Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, head of the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada that is heavily involved in tenant’s rights cases, emphasized that a moratorium does not stop the eviction process entirely.

“Even though there is a moratorium, there is no stop to the service of eviction notices, at least under the last CDC eviction moratorium,” she said. “People heard moratorium, and they interpreted it to mean everything stopped. But the service of notices was not stopped, and so it's so critical for tenants to respond to their notices and apply for rental assistance.”

The announcement comes as U.S. House progressives had been staging a round-the-clock protest outside the U.S. Capitol building. The House adjourned for the August recess after failing to gather enough votes to extend the moratorium.

Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO) led a group of progressives, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-NY), to protest the ban's expiration on Saturday. 

“On Friday night, I came to the Capitol with my chair,” Bush said on Twitter after the announcement. “I refused to accept that Congress could leave for vacation while 11 million people faced eviction. For 5 days, we’ve been out here, demanding that our government acts to save lives. Today, our movement moved mountains.”

The CDC action came after Biden called on the agency to look for the legal authority to act. CDC initially said that it did not have the authority for a national ban, but the agency took a more targeted approach following Biden's order to keep looking.

Before the announcement, Biden was asked about the legal rationale for the approach, which he indicated could get tested in the courts.

“The bulk of the constitutional scholarship says that it's not likely to pass constitutional muster,” Biden told reporters Tuesday. “But there are several key scholars who think that it may and it's worth the effort.”  

For her part, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said that the ban would provide time for relief to reach renters and help boost vaccination rates. The moratorium also can be an effective public health measure utilized to prevent the spread of communicable disease. 

“The emergence of the Delta variant has led to a rapid acceleration of community transmission in the United States, putting more Americans at increased risk, especially if they are unvaccinated,” Walensky said in a release. “This moratorium is the right thing to do to keep people in their homes and out of congregate settings where COVID-19 spreads.”

Sean Golonka and Tabitha Mueller contributed to this story.

This story was updated at 8:27 a.m. on Wednesday Aug. 4, 2021, to include comments from Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV).

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

Good morning, and welcome to the Indy DC Download newsletter, a weekly look at what's going on in the nation's capitol as it relates to Nevada.

If a colleague or associate emailed this newsletter to you, please click here to sign up and receive your own copy of Indy DC Download in your inbox.

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

‘All eyes are on Congress’ after latest blow to DACA program bars first-time applicants

Maria Nieto Orta was driving home to Las Vegas last week from a family vacation in Utah when she found out about a federal judge’s decision to close the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, to first-time applicants. 

“I just remember being super sad about it, and kind of sitting in silence specifically because I didn't yet want to talk to my parents about it, because I knew they were going to ask a lot of questions,” Nieto Orta, 21, said in an interview with The Nevada Independent

Born in Mexico City, Nieto Orta has lived in Las Vegas since before she was age two. She’s among more than 600,000 DACA recipients in the U.S., including more than 11,000 in Nevada. She’s been protected by DACA for the last seven years, since she was 15. Although the recent ruling doesn’t immediately jeopardize her legal immigration status, she’s still worried about the future of DACA. 

“It really sucks, and it’s really disheartening,” said Nieto Orta, who works for Mi Familia Vota, a civic engagement organization in Las Vegas, as the state coordinator. 

The ruling marks a big, but not unexpected, blow for first-time applicants who had a seven-month window in the last three years to apply for the legal immigration status since the Trump administration attempted to terminate the program entirely in September 2017. 

In the ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen of the Southern District of Texas wrote that the Department of Homeland Security can continue to receive applications for DACA, but it may not process or approve them until a further order from the District Court, Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals or the U.S. Supreme Court. Hanen, appointed by George W. Bush during his presidency, said the Obama administration violated administrative procedures when it created DACA in 2012. 

The fate of the DACA program and its recipients continues to swing through major court decisions, some offering momentary reprieve and hope for recipients while others bring a harsh reminder of the fragility of the protection offered to adults who were brought to the U.S. as infants or young children. 

“For people who haven't had DACA, who were in limbo during previous litigation, this just keeps them in limbo,” said UNLV Immigration Clinic Director Michael Kagan. “Obviously, people are desperate for a solution that will actually last."

Of 53,200 people who filed applications for DACA from the beginning of the year through Mar. 31, only 1,163 of them have been approved by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), according to government data. The agency had denied 513 applications as of that date and more than 55,500 were still pending before Hanen issued his decision last week. 

In a statement to CBS News in late June, the agency said the delays were pandemic-related.

President Joe Biden declared in a statement last week that the Department of Justice intends to appeal Hanen’s decision to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and urged Congress to pass the American Dream and Promise Act, which includes a years-long pathway to citizenship for DACA and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients and undocumented immigrants who meet certain requirements. In his first week as president, Biden ordered the Department of Homeland Security to “preserve and fortify” the DACA program. 

The American Dream and Promise Act was approved by the House of Representatives in March, but faces challenging circumstances in the Senate as Democrats hold a slim majority well shy of the 60 votes often needed to pass legislation. Advocates and supporters have been calling for Senate Democrats to include the pathway to citizenship in a large infrastructure bill, which can be approved through the budget reconciliation process, waiving the requirement to get at least 10 Republican lawmakers on board to avoid a filibuster. 

“All eyes are on Congress,” Kagan said. “There is a glimmer of hope in Congress, which is not usual. It's been a long time since there was a real political prospect of passing any immigration legislation. There is a real prospect right now through the reconciliation process. But I don't think anyone knows how likely it is. And of course, in the past, people have been repeatedly disappointed.” 

The decision to halt the program drew words of support for DACA recipients from Nevada officials, including Democratic Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen, Democratic Reps. Dina Titus and Steven Horsford, and UNR and UNLV presidents Brian Sandoval and Keith Whitfield, respectively. 

“The U.S. is the only home that Dreamers have ever known, and they should not be forced to live in fear of deportation. DACA empowered undocumented youth to come out of the shadows and contribute to our communities in immeasureable ways — from serving in our military to being on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic,” Cortez Masto said in a statement, adding that she will continue to lead efforts in Congress to provide “permanent relief” to DACA recipients. 

“We must pass the American Dream and Promise Act without delay,” she said.  

‘There’s a lot of fear’ 

Nieto Orta said her “headspace is all over the place” since the ruling as she attempts to stay connected with first-time applicants who are unsure of the status of their applications or next steps, all while managing her own disappointment. 

She’s always seen DACA as a “Band-Aid,” she said — as something that allows her to work legally, but doesn’t expand to many benefits beyond that, such as a stable and dependable legal immigration status with a path leading toward citizenship for herself or her family members. 

Although she’s among hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients who remain protected under the recent ruling, she’s thinking ahead about worst-case scenarios, such as losing her status. 

“Now I have to save money just in case they do take DACA away, because what's going to happen to my studies?” said Nieto Orta, who is in her second year at UNLV studying political science and criminal justice. 

“School is so expensive out of pocket, you know? I personally love school, so it's like, I want to continue going to school, what if I can't afford it? And what if I, unfortunately, can no longer work because I no longer have an employment authorization card? It's just a lot of questions going on in my head.” 

Applying for DACA or renewing it every two years costs nearly $500 in application fees, and recipients are encouraged to submit renewal applications every 180 days in order to prevent lapses caused by backlogs or slowdowns in processing, which amounts to a $1,000 annual payment. 

It’s uncertain whether people who applied to DACA but were not yet approved during the brief months-long window will receive refunds for their application fees. 

Based on the number of initial requests it received from the beginning of the year through March 31, USCIS received $26 million dollars from first-time applicants since the program reopened in December. The agency is funded largely through fees, such as the application fees needed to apply for DACA. Of the $495 to file an application, $85 is used for biometric processing, or a criminal background check. The rest, $410, goes to USCIS. 

“It’s definitely been a lot of questions from the community,” she said. “‘Do I get my money back?’ I mean, we're still in a pandemic ... the economy has not recovered yet.” 

There’s also concern about sensitive information included on DACA applications that USCIS will receive, but not process, and whether that information could be used to target applicants. 

“There's also a lot of fear,” Nieto Orta said. “[Applicants] are like, ‘OK, well, can you use this information against me?’ Or what's going to happen? Does my application just stay there?” 

Hanen clarified that nothing in the ruling requires the Department of Homeland Security or the Department of Justice to “take any immigration, deportation, or criminal action against any DACA recipient, applicant, or any other individual that either would not otherwise take.” 

Amid the persistent turbulence DACA recipients have experienced since the Trump administration first moved to terminate the program four years ago, Nieto Orta said the community is focused on banding together for support amongst themselves and urging their elected officials to fight for a permanent solution. 

“No one's going to offer better support than someone that isn't documented, because we know what we've been through,” she said. “And that's the best way to help each other.” 

‘Dark clouds on the horizon’ 

As an immigration attorney, what stood out to Kagan in Hanen’s 77-page opinion and court ruling was that the judge identified DACA as an illegal program, signaling potential future action to terminate it. 

“There are ominous signs in the court from this decision, although it was not unexpected in that Judge Hanen ruled that he thinks the entire program is illegal,” he said. “So obviously, this is dark clouds on the horizon. Nothing we did not know, but ominous nonetheless.” 

Kagan noted that both courts the decision could be kicked to — the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court — are conservative courts and that the Fifth Circuit Court has ruled against DACA in the past. 

“That sends a very strong signal that judges on that circuit are skeptical of DACA,” he said. “If you're a betting person, I don't think the government's odds are difficult.” 

He noted the risk of putting hundreds of thousands of people’s futures in the hands of the courts. 

“We really do not want people's lives to depend on the courts in these cases, because it's going to be difficult to save DACA through the courts this time,” he said. “I'm not saying it's all over. But I think we have to be realistic.” 

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.