Kevin Wolf/Associated Press
Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017 | 2 a.m.
A new era begins Friday with the inauguration of Donald Trump, while Nevada’s congressional delegation began work two weeks ago.
With half of the state’s six seats changing hands — including the retirement of Sen. Harry Reid — as the executive branch switches parties, Nevadans will be represented by a group that includes the first Latina senator in United States history.
The Sun asked each of Nevada’s representatives and senators to describe their priorities for the 115th Congress, as well as their plans for working with Trump and their opposing party.
Dean Heller, R-Nev.: As Reid moves on from the Senate, Heller becomes the senior senator from Nevada after being appointed to replace John Ensign in 2011 and defeating Shelley Berkley in 2012. Heller’s priorities include the repeal of the so-called “Cadillac tax” provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — the reform of which is backed by some of Nevada’s largest unions — as well as legislation related to veterans affairs and the development of the Interstate 11 corridor between Las Vegas and Phoenix. Heller also supports Nevada’s continued resistance of the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository, which could see revived interest under a Trump administration.
“The senator will work with all parties to advance and achieve these goals for the state,” said Neal Patel, communications director for Heller.
Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev: The former attorney general for Nevada, Cortez Masto steps into the enormous shadow of Reid, who chose her as his preferred replacement in Washington. In addition to taking up Reid’s top cause of preventing Yucca Mountain, Cortez Masto “remains committed to the same issues I campaigned on: raising the minimum wage, passing middle class tax cuts, rebuilding our infrastructure and expanding clean energy, investing in the VA system, protecting Planned Parenthood funding, fighting for comprehensive immigration reform and keeping families together.”
Cortez Masto hopes Trump will work with Congress to address infrastructure, veterans affairs, and trade issues, but reiterated her stated promise to act as a watchdog on the new president.
“Issues like caring for our veterans, combating human trafficking and fighting terrorism should not be partisan,” Cortez Masto said. “But I want to be clear: Bipartisanship has its limits. As I promised on election night, I will also be a check and balance on Donald Trump if he continues to be divisive and hateful and anti-immigrant.”
Dina Titus, D-Nev.: Now the longest-tenured Democrat in Nevada’s delegation, Titus joined her Senate colleagues in emphasizing issues related to veterans, Yucca Mountain, and the development of Interstate 11. She added defense of public lands and continuation of health care for seniors who have gained coverage through the ACA, as well as immigration reform to help families stay together.
“I will also be vocal about holding the Trump Administration accountable,” Titus said. “The president-elect and his cabinet picks have denied climate change, stoked xenophobia, promised to strip Americans of their health care and vowed to work with the GOP-controlled Congress to slash taxes for the rich while cutting vital programs for underserved communities. We need an approach that will be good for all Americans — not just Trump’s band of billionaires.”
Mark Amodei, R-Nev.: Amodei represents Reno and much of rural Nevada. A supporter of Trump throughout the presidential campaign, Amodei said he plans on “upholding a strong oversight commitment over all executive branch operations.”
His interests also include three lands bills requested by Washoe, Douglas and Pershing counties as well as “focusing on much-needed reforms in regards to health care, immigration, jobs and the economy.”
“He is ready to get to work, restoring accountability within the federal government and advancing real change. So far this Congress, he’s worked with his colleagues in the House to pass several bills that will cut down on burdensome regulations and government-knows-best policies, bringing people back to the center of their government,” said Logan Ramsey, Amodei’s communications director.
Jacky Rosen, D-Nev.: Rosen is one of two Democratic freshmen in the Nevada delegation and is holding elected office for the first time, having defeated Republican Danny Tarkanian for the seat vacated by Joe Heck. Rosen listed strengthening Social Security and Medicare as her top priorities. She also wants to focus on cybersecurity and military issues because will her appointment to the House Armed Services Committee.
“I’m going to work across the aisle as much as possible,” Rosen said. “I’ll stand firm on my principles, but I’ve already met several Republicans in the Congress who want to work across the aisle. I know the fighting gets so much attention, but I came here to get things done. The president-elect has said many times that he wants to protect and strengthen Social Security and Medicare. If he keeps that promise, I’ll work with him to do it.”
Ruben Kihuen, D-Nev.: Kihuen unseated first-term Republican Congressman Cresent Hardy and moves from the state legislature to the federal body. Kihuen said his top priorities include protecting Medicare and Medicaid, continuing his work on making higher education more affordable, and creating good-paying jobs.
“There are certain issues, like working to restore infrastructure, or rebuilding our public schools, where there is room to work with a Republican administration,” Kihuen said. “The Nevada delegation has already started working in a bipartisan manner. I think we can all agree we want to see more Americans with good-paying jobs, see our children grow up with endless opportunities, and ensure our veterans are treated fairly.”