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D.C. Download: Three big issues Nevada's congressional delegation will tackle in 2024

The Nevada delegation will have to consider government spending, Ukraine funding, changes to asylum policy and lands bills.
Gabby Birenbaum
Gabby Birenbaum
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Happy Holidays! Most end-of-year newsletters are looking back on 2023, but instead of doing Nevada delegation ‘Wrapped’ — I did some of that during the August recess — I wanted to look ahead to 2024. Here’s what is coming down the pipeline for Nevada’s congressional delegation next year:

More government shutdown risks

Here’s what we know about spending:

  • The spending stopgap bill that Congress passed shortly after Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) became speaker partially expires Jan. 19. The rest of the government funding runs out Feb. 2.
  • While the Senate passed all 12 of its appropriations bills in committee on a bipartisan basis, only three have passed the full Senate. In the House, seven bills have passed — and the remaining five seem to have no path forward, with Republicans internally divided for having either too many cuts or insufficient conservative policy riders.
  • The debt deal, negotiated by President Joe Biden and then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) in May to avert the debt limit, promises to trigger a 1 percent discretionary spending cut across the board — including domestic spending and the military — if Congress continues to fund the government at past fiscal year levels through these short-term spending solutions (called continuing resolutions) by April. Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are considered mandatory spending, and are not subject to cuts.

Lawmakers averted shutdowns at the end of the fiscal year in September and again shortly before Thanksgiving. Can they pull off a third?

Consider me skeptical. Democrats won’t support any topline spending figure below what McCarthy and Biden negotiated — about $1.7 trillion — representing a 1 percent increase in spending, plus a side deal that added more money for nondefense spending. Many House Republicans have refused to support appropriations bills written at that level, wanting deeper cuts. And many are urging Johnson to hold the line of nearly $1.6 trillion, rejecting the domestic spending that the principals agreed to in a “side deal” — and use the automatic 1 percent cut as leverage.

It’s the recipe for continued spending strife next year, especially because the House does not even return until Jan. 9 — 10 days before the first deadline. A government shutdown affects Nevada and its federal employees in myriad ways: read up on how here.

The supplemental situation

The Senate went home Wednesday with no deal in place to fund the president’s national security priorities — namely Ukraine, which is rapidly running out of U.S. funds in its war against Russia.

To unlock Ukraine funding — increasingly unpopular among Republicans — Biden paired his supplemental funding request with money for Israel, Taiwan and the U.S.-Mexico border. But Senate Republicans have demanded that any new support for Ukraine must be paired with significant immigration policy changes.

Negotiators have discussed raising the standard migrants must meet when applying for asylum, restricting the president’s ability to grant humanitarian parole and detaining more undocumented immigrants, regardless of security threat risk.

Congressional Hispanic Caucus members in the House have been outraged over the scope of the negotiations, which they say harm immigrants, represent a return to Trump-era policy and trade away legal protections for migrants for temporary Ukraine funding, potentially removing any leverage Democrats have to seek a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

Caucus members, including Sens. Alex Padilla (D-CA), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ), have been public in their opposition to the negotiations. But Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), the only other Hispanic Democrat in the Senate, has not spoken out, saying she prefers to wait to see bill text before taking a stance.

Though no deal has emerged and senators went home for the holidays, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) released a joint statement saying they’re committed to passing a supplemental bill addressing Ukraine and the border in the new year.

But even if the Senate can agree on a final product, the effort could be doomed in the House. Many Republicans object to Ukraine funding on principle, and Speaker Johnson wants nothing less than House Republicans’ own border bill attached. And if the bill includes some of the immigration provisions being discussed, progressives and Hispanic Democrats may vote it down as well.

Lands bills?

Whether or not Nevada lands bills move in committee in 2024 is up to the politics of each chamber, but there should at least be some bill introductions next year.

Both Cortez Masto’s and Sen. Jacky Rosen’s (D-NV) offices are working on their lands bills, which would convey public lands in Clark and Washoe counties, respectively, to be sold at auction, in exchange for new conservation protections on other public lands. Over 80 percent of Nevada is federal land, hence the need for acts of Congress to adjust local land use policies. (To learn more, check out my deep dive into the lands bill process from August.)

Cortez Masto’s Clark bill was pulled from consideration in 2022 after it lost the support of the county, and is being reworked.

Rosen’s Washoe County lands bill has been in development for years after the county and the cities of Reno and Sparks requested a federal lands bill in 2016. Rosen released a working draft of the bill in April and took comments on it in the spring. It’s expected that she will introduce the bill next year.

Finally, Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV) has already introduced his Northern Nevada Economic Development and Conservation Act, his top priority as a legislator. The bill combines development and conservation priorities in the non-Washoe municipalities of Northern Nevada. Earlier this year, he said he considers the 118th Congress a prime opportunity to pass his hallmark legislation — he’s built relationships with the relevant committee chairs and staff, and even briefly withheld his support for Johnson until they could discuss his proposals.

Around the Capitol

🥖Grocery store merger missive — Rosen sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission urging the agency to review and consider blocking the proposed merger between grocery giants Albertsons and Kroger. 

In doing so, she joins calls from a number of Democrats across the country — including progressive Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who went a bit further in calling on the FTC to block the merger outright — that are concerned the merger would increase food costs and harm workers.

Rosen called the consolidation “particularly problematic” for Nevada, where both companies have a massive market share.

💵In the tribal interest — A bill from Cortez Masto and Rosen to ensure the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of the Duck Valley Reservation receive interest on a 2009 water rights settlement passed the Senate.

The bill, a technical fix that allows the tribes to collect more than $5 million in interest payments on the settlement, will now move to the House.

🥃Whiskey rebellion wins — Cortez Masto led a group of senators, including Rosen, in a letter in early December calling on the Biden administration to push back on a proposed 50 percent E.U. tariff on American whiskey imports.

Whiskey distillers, rejoice: the proposed tariff was suspended until March 2025.

Notable and Quotable:

“If we don’t have a unity ticket, whatever Republican gets the nomination … will win.” 

— Bob Zeidman, a two-time Trump voter and Nevadan, on why No Labels’ proposed unity ticket should prevail

Legislative Tracker

CATHERINE CORTEZ MASTO

Legislation co-sponsored:

S.Res.515 — A resolution condemning attacks by Iranian military proxies on the armed forces of the United States in Iraq and Syria and emphasizing the urgency of responding to and deterring such attacks.

JACKY ROSEN

Legislation co-sponsored:

S.Res.515 — A resolution condemning attacks by Iranian military proxies on the armed forces of the United States in Iraq and Syria and emphasizing the urgency of responding to and deterring such attacks.

DINA TITUS

Legislation co-sponsored:

H.Con.Res.81 — Recognizing international days of peace, coexistence and cooperation.

H.R.6850 — To improve technology and address human factors in aviation safety, and for other purposes.

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