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December 20, 2014

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Washington Memo:

Rep. Mark Amodei’s bill shows Nevada needs Congress’ OK to do anything with its land

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

Republican Mark Amodei speaks at a victory party in Reno on Tuesday after defeating Democrat Kate Marshall in a special election for Nevada’s 2nd Congressional District. Amodei’s daughters Erin, left, and Ryanne were among the supporters on hand.

Updated Friday, July 25, 2014 | 11 a.m.

Amber Phillips, the Sun's Washington correspondent, wraps up the week in politics with Nevada's congressional delegation.



WASHINGTON — With one week to go before a five-week summer break, Nevada’s lawmakers are doing what they can do to push through agendas they’ve been working on all year.

Amodei smoothes over water dispute

Rep. Mark Amodei claimed one of the delegation’s first victories of the week when the House of Representatives passed the Northern Nevada Republican’s bill signaling the end of a decade-old water dispute near Reno between the the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe and a ranch that wants to expand.

The details are wonky, but it underscores the fact Nevadans need congressional approval to do pretty much anything with the state’s land. The bill is expected to pass the Senate and become law.

Nevada’s House delegation also teamed up with Florida lawmakers — two states with economies that rely heavily on tourism — to support a bill that passed the House to encourage tourism to America. The bill has the support of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., so it may have a chance of actually becoming law.

Heller, Titus focus on VA issues

Much of Congress’ attention this week was on the Veterans Affairs Department, from picking its new leader to trying to agree on a health care reform bill before the August recess.

Sen. Dean Heller, a Republican, voted with his colleagues on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee to unanimously support the president’s nominee to lead the VA, Procter & Gamble executive Robert McDonald. But not before Heller made sure McDonald understood that the troubled Reno regional VA office needs a new leader.

Rep. Dina Titus, a Las Vegas Democrat, got to speak to the acting VA chief, Sloan Gibson, in the House Veterans Affairs Committee. She expressed concern that legislation to send more veterans to doctors outside the VA won’t actually give veterans better or faster care, especially in places like Las Vegas where there’s a shortage of doctors.

Titus' House-passed legislation to expand sexual trauma care for National Guard and other reserve members got a bipartisan boost on Friday when the House voted to include it in the VA health care reform bill being debated by Senate and House leaders. The vote is nonbinding, but it sends a strong message to negotiators that lawmakers would like to see Titus' proposal in the final piece of legislation. Negotiators are also considering another piece of Titus legislation to expand GI scholarship programs to surviving spouses.

Of course, it wasn’t all VA all week for these two. Titus introduced legislation that would require the government to review how well-suited hotels and airports are for travelers with disabilities, citing Las Vegas as a leader.

And for the second week in a row, she also found a way to be around dogs on Capitol Hill.

Heller continued to push several lands bills and wildfire-fighting bills he’s trying to get through Congress. He proposed them as amendments to a destined-to-fail bill championed by Reid to make American companies that move overseas keep paying U.S. taxes. If you have 10 minutes, hear him talk about them.

Also, his son and daughter in law are famous on the Internet.

Heck leads floor debate, gets his bill passed

Rep. Joe Heck, a Republican representing Henderson and Boulder City, got to add floor debate leader to his resume Wednesday.

He was in charge of allocating who on the Republican side could speak on a series of human trafficking issues. Moments before his microphone duties, the House passed his own bill on human trafficking — though its fate in the Senate is uncertain.

Horsford gets root canal surgery, talks to the Chinese

After recovering from emergency root canal surgery, Rep. Steven Horsford returned to Washington later in the week to good news about one of his past organizations, Nevada Partners.

The White House said it will include the nonprofit that helps train Southern Nevadans for jobs and financial literacy in a study of how to do jobs-training programs right.

Horsford, a Democrat representing North Las Vegas and rural parts north, was formerly executive director of Nevada Partners.

Horsford also brandished his international economic policy chops (it’s one of his focuses on the House Financial Services Committee) when he met with Chinese businessmen and politicians. They talked about a lot of things, including how much money America owes China.

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