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August 25, 2019

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j. patrick coolican:

Horsford would be a waste in Washington

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford talks to the media after a meeting of the Senate Revenue Committee on the second day of the 2011 legislative session Tuesday, February 8, 2011 in Carson City.

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J. Patrick Coolican

I received an important news release Wednesday: “BERKLEY RECOGNIZES 100th ANNIVERSARY OF LAS VEGAS CHAMBER OF COMMERCE IN HOUSE FLOOR REMARKS.”

Later, another important item arrived from the ether:  Video of Rep. Shelley Berkley’s floor remarks had suddenly become available and ready for broadcast.

State Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford: Welcome to your new life of inanity occasionally interrupted by frantic political fundraising.

Horsford will announce today he is running for Congress as a Democrat. Although the district lines haven’t been drawn yet, Horsford will likely be running in whatever district encompasses our urban core.

Horsford is bright, hardworking and capable, with a remarkable personal story.

His father was murdered, and he was forced to leave UNR after his first semester to care for younger siblings while his mother struggled with addiction. He is the head of the Culinary Training Academy, the management-labor partnership that prepares workers for their jobs on the Las Vegas Strip. He has deep legislative experience and is known as collegial but tough.

In short, he’ll make probably make a fine congressman, which is why I wish he wouldn’t run. The real work must be done here, not in Washington.

I made the same argument two weeks ago when state Sen. Ruben Kihuen announced he was running for Congress, but I guess no one was listening. I’m like a freshman congressman in the minority party.

At least Horsford had a decent answer when I asked what he can do in Washington that he can’t do here.

“What I see in Washington is no action. Our gaming sector won’t recover until the national economy grows, and we need strong leaders focused on that.”

(Freeing ourselves from the fortunes of the national economy might be something to shoot for. But that will be accomplished by diversifying our economy  here.)

I asked him about the foreclosure problem, which continues to sweep through neighborhoods and will prevent any new housing construction here for years to come. As should be obvious from the federal government’s total failure on this issue, this is a difficult problem. And he had no real answer, other than putting people to work so they can pay their mortgages: “As we deal with that problem, and figure out ways to keep people in their homes and ways to prevent banks and corporations from taking advantage of middle-class families, while we’re doing that, we need to put people back to work.”

He pointed to his real-world experience at the training academy, which had a job fair recently; 300 showed up and 90 left with job offers.

Horsford, who backed then-Sen. Barack Obama early in 2007 and has friends in the White House, endorsed the president’s American Jobs Act, which would extend payroll tax cuts and introduce some new tax cuts, spend on infrastructure and prevent teacher layoffs.

He had some tough words for Republicans in Congress. He was a guest of Sen. Harry Reid during Obama’s recent address to Congress, and, Horsford says, “What I saw was a faction of those members of Congress — the conservative Tea Party faction — who are so focused on seeing this president fail, that they’re willing to see the rest of America lose. That’s not the America I know.”

(Tea Party members would say they just disagree with Obama about his policies, though there’s some factual basis for Horsford’s allegation: Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, said his top priority is beating Obama. Though why shouldn’t it be?)

I didn’t mean to pick on Berkley earlier. Those speeches are part of the job. (Happy birthday, Chamber of Commerce — I sent a very nice set of golf clubs.)

And obviously it matters who controls Congress. Sometimes Congress gets stuff done.

For the most part, however, Washington is broken, mostly because of the godforsaken Senate filibuster, which forces Reid to get 60 votes out of 100 in the Senate just to start debate.

End the filibuster, and then I’d encourage our best and brightest, Republican and Democrat alike, to head to Washington to craft policy that will get America out of this slump.

Until then, I hate to see our finest young leaders waste their talents in such a wasteland while pressing needs at home go unmet.

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