Nevada’s Democratic senators got plum committee assignments for the next two-year legislative session with Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto to move to the Finance Committee, while Sen.-elect Jacky Rosen will take Cortez Masto’s place on the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.
“I’m honored to have the opportunity to serve Nevadans on these crucial committees and advocate for their interests,” Cortez Masto said in a statement. “As we enter the 116th Congress, I will continue working on the issues that matter most to Nevadans.”
Cortez Masto had been eyeing a spot on the much sought after Finance Committee, which oversees tax, trade and tax-funded health programs in the Senate since she arrived in 2017.
“That was on the top of my wish list when I first became a United States senator,” Cortez Masto told The Nevada Independent last month.
Her presence on the panel will keep a Nevada voice on the committee with the departure of Sen. Dean Heller, a Republican who served on the panel, but lost his re-election bid to Rosen in November.
Being a member of the finance panel—which draws interest from various constituencies, including the business and financial communities—could help Cortez Masto in her new role as head the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, where she will lead the effort to raise money to help elect more Democrats to the Senate in an effort to reclaim the majority in 2020.
She remains a member of the Banking Committee, the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the Rules Committee and the Indian Affairs Committee. Each oversees issues relevant to Nevada.
For example, the Banking Committee has oversight over public and private housing, including veterans housing. Nevada has seen housing prices rise in recent years. In the third quarter of this year, Nevada home prices rose 15 percent, the second highest increase in the nation, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency.
The Energy and Natural Resources Committee has jurisdiction over nuclear waste policy, which is important for opponents of building a repository at Yucca Mountain. The Rules Committee oversees federal elections and presidential succession. The Indian Affairs Committee deals with issues pertaining to the Native American community, many of which reside in the West. Nevada is home to 19 federally recognized tribes, according to the National Council of State Legislatures.
Cortez Masto departs from the Special Committee on Aging and the desirable Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, which has a vast jurisdiction that includes telecommunications, transportation safety, weather, disasters, space, interstate commerce and tourism.
However, Nevada will keep a spot on the commerce panel with Rosen getting one of its coveted seats.
Nevada’s junior senator will also serve on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and she also joins the Special Committee on Aging, keeping a Nevada senator on the panel.
“Each of these five committees covers issues that are important to Nevada,” Rosen said. “From protecting access to quality, affordable health care to improving our nation’s roads, bridges, and airports to defending our homeland, these committees will give me the ability to continue fighting for Nevada’s hardworking families.”
Along with health issues, the HELP Committee has jurisdiction over student loans, policies affecting individuals with disabilities, domestic activities of the American Red Cross and the federal minimum wage. The Homeland Security Committee is the Senate’s primary oversight committee with broad jurisdiction over government operations generally and the Department of Homeland Security in particular. The Small Business Committee’s jurisdiction includes developing policies to help small businesses. The aging panel focuses on issues facing seniors, including those relating to Medicare and Social Security.
In the House, Rosen served on the House Armed Services Committee and the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee.
UPDATE (12/20/18 at 3:00 p.m.): This story has been updated to reflect that Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto will not be a member of the Special Committee on Aging in the 116th Congress.