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D.C. Download: Spending bills earmark $187M for Nevada. What's in them?

After months of near-shutdowns, Congress is finally poised to finish up this year’s spending bills that are six months overdue.
Gabby Birenbaum
Gabby Birenbaum
East front U.S. Capitol Nov. 16, 2018. (Humberto Sanchez/The Nevada Independent).

Prominent Cabinet officials were at the Capitol all week testifying about the president’s 2025 fiscal year budget, so you’d be forgiven for thinking we’ve moved on to figuring out next year’s budgets.

But if you’re a longtime DCD-head, you’ll recall several increasingly exasperated dispatches about the House’s attempts to pass 2024 fiscal year spending bills.

Now well into March — nearly six months into the fiscal year — it appears our long national nightmare is finally coming to an end. 

The News of the Week: Budget negotiations

To the tune of “Alexander Hamilton”...

How does a normal, standard, product of the House

And the Senate, dropped in the middle of a polarizing spot

In our politics by Congress, preposterous

Entire, turn out to be a total dumpster fire? 

The trillion-dollar, resolution with no solution

Took a lot longer

By a Congress a lot closer

Seemed we’d never get closure

By the fall, they axed Kevin McCarthy and started over

Well the word got around, they said

This is really insane, man

Had to pass four separate funding patches just to stay, man

Shutdowns were averted, the bills were just the same

And each party’s gonna cast the blame

Who’s to blame, man?

Alright, sorry to get all millennial there, but the budget saga has truly involved Hamilton-worthy pettiness and politicking. 

To put it in plain, non-rhyming English: since October, Congress has kicked the spending can down the road four separate times, keeping funding at 2023 levels as they’ve negotiated priorities for the current fiscal year. 

Among Republicans, these negotiations became so internecine that they ousted their speaker over it, only for newly minted Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) to, like his predecessor, pass bipartisan spending bills at previously negotiated levels over the objections of his right flank. Like McCarthy, he’s now facing a threat to his speakership over it. [A channeling his inner boomer Editor’s Note: Second verse, same as the first].

Congress passed a minibus package of six spending bills in early March and reached an agreement on the remaining six bills — including a thorny one funding Homeland Security — early this week, with a government shutdown deadline looming on Saturday.

A good portion of Republicans will likely oppose it on the House floor, and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) plans to engage in some delay tactics in the Senate. But even if a partial government shutdown is triggered over the weekend, the bill is expected to pass both chambers and the government will be funded through Sept. 30.

Spending bills mean earmarks — and lots of them for Nevada!

The Nevada Angle

The first tranche of government funding — which the president already signed into law — contained $147 million for 76 projects in Nevada.

The second, up for a vote this weekend, has about $40 million for 24 Nevada projects. 

The combined $187 million is roughly in line with the $182.5 million that Nevada’s delegation secured last fiscal year. All of the project funds were requested by the state’s two senators, with a handful having House sponsors as well.

All four of Nevada’s House members voted in favor of both funding bills. Both senators supported the first one and are expected to vote for the second one once it hits the floor.

The top 11 biggest earmarks are listed in order below:

  1. $7.5 million for Nellis Air Force Base for the planning and design of a new dormitory 
  2. $6.76 million for the City of North Las Vegas for Cheyenne Ridge Park’s safety and activity
  3. $5.5 million for Nevada Army National Guard to plan and design a combined support maintenance shop 
  4. $5 million for Nevada Department of Transportation for the construction of a roundabout on State Route 227 in Elko County 
  5. $5 million for the City of Las Vegas for the procurement and installation of over 3,500 upgraded streetlights 
  6. $4.8 million for the City of Ely for a wastewater treatment plant upgrade 
  7. $4.4 million for Nye County for paving on Pogue Summit Road 
  8. $4.4 million for Western Nevada College for facilities and equipment 
  9. $4 million for the City of Sparks for building improvements to the Oddie Boulevard Community Center 
  10. $4 million for the Nevada Secretary of State’s Office to improve a state business license online portal 
  11. $4 million for UNLV for computing equipment 

The Impact

Earmarks are often criticized by Republicans, but most members like the opportunity to direct funding to organizations in their districts.

Despite all the appropriations brouhaha, the Nevada delegation was still able to bring home plenty of bacon. And with this appropriations process finally over, they can now turn their attention to the 2025 fiscal year — and begin requesting funds for next year’s projects.

Around the Capitol

🧑‍⚖️If you can’t get Cortez Masto…Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) finds herself at odds with the White House after her opposition to a historic judge looks to have sunk his nomination. Cortez Masto announced Tuesday she would not support the nomination of Adeel Mangi, who would be the first Muslim American judge to serve on a federal appeals court. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) is also opposed.

Republicans have scrutinized Mangi’s service on the advisory board of a center at Rutgers that hosted controversial speakers and questioned him about his stance on the Israel-Gaza war. Mangi is Pakistani-American.

The White House called the efforts to derail Mangi’s nomination an “Islamophobic smear campaign” and urged Senate Democrats to support him. But Cortez Masto said she would oppose Mangi over his affiliation with a legal aid nonprofit that counted Kathy Boudin, a founder of the radical militant group Weather Underground, as a member.

🩺Happy birthday, ACA The Affordable Care Act is turning 14! Nevada has nearly 500,000 people enrolled either in the marketplace or through Medicaid expansion, and between 2013 and 2022, when the most recent data is available, its uninsured rate fell from about 21 percent to 11 percent.

🏀No winners hereFour colleges are represented by the Nevada delegation — or at least where they did their undergraduate studies — but none will be celebrating their alma mater by the end of March Madness. Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV), Rep. Steven Horsford (D-NV) and Cortez Masto all attended UNR, which lost in devastating fashion Thursday to Dayton. Meanwhile, Minnesota (Rosen) and William and Mary (Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV)) missed the tournament, while Carnegie Mellon (Rep. Susie Lee (D-NV)) is in Division III.

Good luck in the women’s bracket to UNLV, where Titus spent decades as a professor.

🐮Big beef over Paraguayan imports — Both of Nevada’s senators joined with 24 Senate Democrats and nearly all Republicans in beefing with the White House over a rule to permit the U.S. to import beef from Paraguay. 

In a 70-26 vote Thursday, senators passed a resolution to block the rule. Cortez Masto and Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV)’s vote was supported by the Nevada Cattlemen’s Association and Nevada Farm Bureau.

The resolution still requires approval from the House and the president in order to overturn the proposed rule.

What I’m Reading

HuffPost: A Democrat just caved to the GOP’s bogus attacks on Biden’s Muslim court pick

In which a photo of Cortez Masto is captioned, “You folded like a deck of cards.”

The Nevada Independent: Why is an elected official in California running for Nevada’s Senate seat?

As if California doesn’t have enough influence.

The Hill: Congressional Black Caucus releases new plan to build Black wealth, with eye on Democratic House

Horsford, who has long urged Democrats to get smart on housing, just released his own blueprint. He picked a good week for it — the president talked about housing in Las Vegas on Tuesday.

Vote of the week

H.Con.Res.86 — Expressing the sense of Congress that a carbon tax would be detrimental to the United States economy

A House Republican messaging bill intended to try and divide Democrats did manage to peel off 10 of them — but none of Nevada’s.





Staffing Announcements

Daniel Corona is the deputy political and coalitions director for Nevada on the Biden-Harris campaign. He has previously served as the mayor of West Wendover.

Abby O’Keefe is the organizing director for the Biden campaign’s Nevada team. She served in the same role on Brandon Pressley’s bid for governor in Mississippi.

Kevin Seymore is now chief operating officer for the Nevada Democrats’ coordinated campaign. He previously worked as a political appointee in the Biden administration at the United States Agency for International Development.

Michael Cullen is now the trips director for the Biden campaign. He was chief of staff to the last two Democratic lieutenant governors.

Gena Driscoll-Brantley is the new data director for the Biden campaign in Nevada. She was the Rocky Mountain targeting director for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee last cycle.


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