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Amodei's mining bill passes House after procedural mishap last week

The bill, which would return the mining industry to the pre-Rosemont standard, is opposed by the Biden administration.
Gabby Birenbaum
Gabby Birenbaum

After a Republican floor rebellion last week kept his bill from getting a vote, Rep. Mark Amodei’s (R-NV) Mining Regulatory Clarity Act passed the House on Wednesday by a vote of 216-195.

Six Republicans voted with Democrats to send the bill back to committee last week as part of an ongoing war with Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) about his legislative decisions. There were further fireworks Wednesday — the vote was briefly postponed as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) brought a motion to vacate the speaker to the floor. But after both parties joined together and tabled that motion, the mining bill sailed to a smooth passage with the support of all Republicans and even nine Democrats.

“Securing our domestic mineral supply chain is not only critical to our nation’s economic success, but to our national security,” Amodei said in a statement. “Now more than ever, we must ensure we are doing all that we can to increase domestic mineral production and protect the ability to conduct responsible mining activities on federal lands.”

Rep. Steven Horsford (D-NV), whose district includes parts of rural central Nevada whose economy is dependent on mining, voted in support of the bill. Reps. Dina Titus (D-NV) and Susie Lee (D-NV), whose districts are entirely based in Southern Nevada, voted against it.

The bill would return the mining industry to its land usage standards that were in place before the blockbuster 2022 Rosemont decision, a federal court case out of Arizona that found mining companies have no right to dump waste rock on neighboring federal lands that do not contain minerals. Amodei’s legislation has the support of the mining industry and has drawn the ire of several environmental groups.

[Read more about the Mining Regulatory Clarity Act here.]

Separately, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) is sponsoring a Senate version of the bill. In an interview last week, she said she would be working to promote the bill in the upper chamber. Energy & Natural Resources Chairman Joe Manchin (D-WV), a longtime mining ally, is supportive of the bill, she said. Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) is also a cosponsor.

“Everything from lithium-ion batteries to satellites relies on critical minerals, and we should be responsibly mining those right here in the U.S.,” Cortez Masto said in a statement praising the House vote. “Without a fix, the Rosemont decision could upend existing and future mining projects, threatening thousands of jobs in Nevada and across the West.” 

Even if Cortez Masto can find nine other Democrats to support the legislation and overcome the 60-vote filibuster threshold, its hopes are limited by the opposition of the Biden administration. In a statement of administrative policy, the Office of Management and Budget said it is “strongly opposed” to the bill on the grounds that it could allow mining companies and private actors too much leeway to manipulate the mining claims process.

The Mining Regulatory Clarity Act is the second Amodei bill to pass the House this year — a significant achievement given how few items the lower chamber has cleared. It is his first lands-related bill to pass the House since 2018, when his legislation making technical corrections to lands boundaries across Northern Nevada was agreed to by voice vote.


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