Las Vegas Sun

January 22, 2018

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Washington Memo: Horsford mocks Boehner, Titus gets a VA win and Heller fights NSA spying

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

WASHINGTON — As Congress closes down today for a five-week break from legislating, lawmakers have little to show for their work, although late Thursday they approved bills to fund construction for our nation’s highways and aid the struggling Veterans Affairs hospitals.

Still, Nevada’s lawmakers have certainly kept busy, introducing legislation they hope will be taken up when Congress comes back in September — without the dysfunction that so stymied Washington this week. Here’s how local lawmakers spent the week:

Heller works to curb sexual assaults on college campuses, NSA spying

Sen. Dean Heller is the lead Republican for a bipartisan bill aimed at curbing campus sexual assaults. He and several other senators introduced it in a high-profile press conference this week, though its future is uncertain.

Another one of Heller’s initiatives that could get a vote in September is legislation to limit the National Security Agency’s ability to spy on Americans. But the powers that be could derail his plans: White House administration officials were involved in last-minute changes to a similar bill in the House of Representatives earlier this summer, much to the chagrin of Rep. Steven Horsford, who said it was too weak for him to support. Heller said he’s trying to make sure that doesn’t happen in the Senate.

Horsford gets digital and political

Heller’s family may have one of the most-watched Vines ever, but it’s Horsford, a Democrat representing North Las Vegas and a large region northwest of that, who won an award for a six-second video he produced.

House Democrats hosted a contest this month to promote social engagement among lawmakers, and Horsford’s team came up with this winning Vine calling out Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, for criticizing fellow Republicans for a position Boehner later took himself.

Actually, Horsford’s whole week was busy with criticizing Boehner. He also blasted Republicans’ lawsuit against President Barack Obama in a late-night floor speech.

Horsford had a legislative victory when a key House committee reached an agreement on a lands bill that could create a copper mine in Lyon County.

Amodei: More honey than vinegar

Rep. Mark Amodei was a big player in getting that lands bill package, which includes much more beyond Lyon County, through the House Natural Resources Committee.

The Republican from Northern Nevada was also singled out in this Democrat-sponsored campaign video trying to poke fun at House Republicans on their way to authorizing the chamber to sue the president. (Amodei voted for it, saying, “Every day I hear from constituents asking why we don’t do something about the president’s attempts to make his own laws.”)

It’s clear from the video Amodei’s legislating style is to use honey rather than vinegar.

Titus goes on the attack, gets a VA win

Rep. Dina Titus, a Las Vegas Democrat, blasted the lawsuit as a political stunt. And she had more criticism for her Republican colleagues at a press conference to call attention to the long-term unemployed who lost their federal benefits.

Titus also had a busy week on the legislative side. Three of her bills made it into a final health reform law for Veterans Affairs hospitals (two of Heller’s initiatives also were included), and she introduced legislation late this week to help state charities and donors better weed out imposters.

Heck introduces more VA reform legislation

Rep. Joe Heck stayed focused this week even as House leadership gave the Republican, who is up for re-election to represent Henderson and Boulder City, whiplash on whether he’d have to take some tough immigration votes. (As of this writing, things were still uncertain, but Heck said he’d support a limited border crisis bill.)

In the midst of all that, Heck introduced legislation to take away red tape that prevents qualified doctors from easily treating veterans at VA facilities.

And he continued his outreach to the district’s diverse community.

Nevada’s lawmakers will head home this weekend, and they’ll stay busy with constituent events, fundraisers, town halls and much more. We’ll cover all that for you, too.

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