Las Vegas Sun

January 22, 2018

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Washington Memo: Puppies, Slurpees and bipartisanship in Nevada’s delegation

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

Heller supports Reid on key energy nominee, gets his bill passed

WASHINGTON — Sen. Dean Heller bucked his party this week to support his colleague, Sen. Harry Reid. Heller was the only Republican and one of the deciding votes to confirm Reid’s controversial pick to lead a commission in charge of our nation’s energy grid. (Great background by the Wall Street Journal on the fight.)

Heller said he thinks Reid’s pick for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Norman Bay, will make it a priority to grow renewable energy in states like Nevada.

“I certainly didn’t want to miss that opportunity,” Heller said afterward. “So if I had to be the lone voice on this one, I think it’s for the state of Nevada.”

On a more bipartisan note, Heller is the co-author of legislation that passed the Senate 93-4 to extend a program where the government takes on some financial responsibility for insurance companies that offer terrorism risk insurance. It now goes to the House of Representatives, where its future is uncertain.

Heller took to the Senate floor to support the bill before his colleagues passed it. He got a little tongue-tied but got his point across.

Other notes from Heller’s busy week:

Questioning top GM officials

Testifing before a Senate committee to stop the spread of quagga mussels

Not letting go of the Veterans Affairs backlog in offices like Reno

• He got a free Slurpee. (OK, this was last week.)

Titus fights for veterans, unemployment benefits and puppies

Rep. Dina Titus, a Democrat from Las Vegas, continued her work supporting veterans this week by co-introducing legislation that would ease restrictions on what schools veterans can attend under the GI Bill.

She also took part in a weekly press conference with House Democrats to call for Congress to extend unemployment benefits for long-term unemployed Americans. Every week, they share stories of unemployed constituents who have run into a financial dead end and need help from the government.

All that policy work was fun, but it’s probably safe to say the best park of Titus’ week was this puppy fair:

Amodei’s legislative victory

Rep. Mark Amodei, a Republican representing much of Northern Nevada, celebrated a legislative victory this week. The House passed his legislation that directs federal agencies to reconsider resort cities like Las Vegas and Reno for their conventions.

Federal agencies have been skittish to hold events in places like Las Vegas two years after federal employees were caught noshing on $7,000 sushi and partying with clowns at an event there. If the Senate approves the same legislation — a big if — Amodei may help change that.

Horsford chants with House Democrats

Rep. Steven Horsford, a Democrat representing North Las Vegas and rural parts north, had a week mixed with politics and policy.

The politics: He joined House Democratic leaders for a sweltering press conference on the Capitol steps, where lawmakers promoted legislation they say will help the middle class, such as raising the minimum wage and immigration reform. The made-for-camera event wouldn’t be complete without cringe-worthy chants. “When the middle class succeeds …” yelled House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, “America succeeds!” called back Horsford and the rest of the lawmakers.

The policy: He asked Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen a question about Nevada’s still-struggling housing market when she came to the House Financial Services Committee. (Heller spoke to Yellen in the Senate, too, when he asked whether she thought the stock market was rigged.)

Here’s Horsford’s wonky-yet-important exchange with arguably the most powerful person in the world:

Heck attacks Reid on immigration

On the heels of two legislative victories last week, Rep. Joe Heck’s office focused a bit more on politics for the Republican representing Henderson and Boulder City. In a tweet, he attacked Reid for comments Reid made this week that “the border is secure.”

In an interview, Heck said he wanted to point out that House Republicans — and he in particular — shouldn’t get all the blame for immigration reform not passing.

“I’m getting a lot of blame for immigration reform not passing, and maybe I’m biased on this, but quite honestly, I don’t think I deserve the blame,” he said. “Because I’ve been working very hard and very publicly on this issue.”

Heck supports immigration reform, but not in the form of one large bill. Some labor unions are running Spanish-language ads tying Heck to House Republican leaders who haven’t brought immigration reform for a vote.

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