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July 31, 2014

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Politics:

Nevada Rep. Amodei appointed to House Appropriations Committee

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AP Photo/Susan Walsh

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, right, administers the House Oath to Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011, during a ceremonial swearing-in ceremony, following his official swearing in on the floor of the House.

Nevada got some of its old clout back in the House today when the Republican steering committee appointed Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., to the House Appropriations Committee.

Amodei was one of three House members selected to join the House committee that, more than any other, controls where and how federal dollars are spent.

“After a 17-year absence, Nevada returns to a seat on the House Appropriations Committee,” Amodei said in a statement announcing his appointment. “I look forward to being a strong voice on Western issues while continuing a strong oversight commitment over all executive branch operations.”

The last Nevadan to serve on the appropriations committee was Barbara Vucanovich, also a Republican representing the 2nd Congressional District, who was appointed to the committee in 1991.

The business of appropriating has sustained a few changes since Vucanovich was on it.

For one, the committee is no longer responsible for sifting through earmarks — special sums of money lawmakers request to be designated for specific local projects — since Congress decided a few years ago to do away with the earmarking process.

Nevada was a state that in the past had benefitted tremendously from earmarking — and without earmarks has relied heavily on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s influence to get money directed toward local projects. Amodei’s presence on the appropriations committee could be another way for the state to secure federal attention to the types of programs that benefit the local population.

The appropriations committee is also where Nevada faces annual fisticuffs over Yucca Mountain funding, which House Republican leadership has attempted to insert into the budget every year. Reid always manages to pull it out, but as a member of the appropriations committee, Amodei could also speak up for Nevada’s interests before Yucca provisions hit the floor.

Yet, how far Amodei’s influence can go likely will be subject to some political limits.

Though the House and Senate do vote on their own appropriations bills, Congress hasn’t managed to pass any common ones into law since the two bodies have operated under different leadership — Republicans in the House and Democrats in the Senate.

In order to serve on the appropriations committee, Amodei will have to give up his other committee assignments because members of Congress who are appointed to the appropriations committee are required to serve on it alone. Amodei currently sits on the natural resources, judiciary and veterans' affairs committees. As part of his new assignment, he will be appointed to three appropriations subcommittees.

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