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East front of the U.S. Capitol. July 16, 2018. (Humberto Sanchez/The Nevada Independent)

The Nevada delegation narrowly fended off a push last week to revive a plan to store nuclear waste in Nevada while the House passed a bill to block White House efforts to curb the Consumer Financial Protection bureau, which until recently was led by acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.

The Senate capped off the week with an 85 to 8 vote on a $19.1 billion disaster relief package. The GOP-led Senate took the lead on wrapping up negotiations with the White House on the aid measure, which did not include $4.5 billion in border funding sought by President Donald Trump but did include $1.4 billion for Puerto Rico—funding Trump opposed.

The House was expected to clear the measure on a voice vote Friday, but Texas Republican Rep. Chip Roy objected over, among other things, the lack of border funding. It’s an open question whether House Democratic leaders will try to pass the measure next week or wait until after the Memorial Day recess, which ends June 3.

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, who has called for aid for Puerto Rico over Trump’s opposition, praised passage of the bill.

“I’m proud to vote for bipartisan legislation that includes funding for Puerto Rico to recover and rebuild from hurricanes Irma and Maria, and that finally brings much needed relief to communities recovering from natural disasters all across the United States,” she said in a release.

Sen. Jacky Rosen also voted for the measure.

Senate approval of the package came despite Trump’s decision to walk out of infrastructure negotiations Wednesday with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer.

At Wednesday’s meeting, Trump declared he would not work with Democrats until they ended all of the investigations they have launched following the release of the report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, which painted an unflattering picture of the president and raised the question of whether the House should begin impeachment proceedings. Pelosi, despite calls from progressives, has been reluctant to pursue impeachment over concerns of a backlash from voters in 2020.

Trump’s move came after Pelosi, who has been critical of the White House’s refusal to cooperate with the investigations, accused the president of participating in a cover-up.

A handful of House committees have issued subpoenas to get testimony from former White House officials, like recent White House counsel Don McGahn, who, according to the report, was asked by Trump to fire Mueller, which he refused to do. McGahn declined to appear before the House Judiciary Committee and could be held in contempt by the panel and the full House. A contempt vote for U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr, who also refused to appear before the committee, is expected to come after the Memorial Day recess.

The House CFPB measure passed on a 231 to 191 vote with no Republicans voting with Democrats to approve the bill.

Republican Rep. Mark Amodei opposed the bill, in part, because an amendment to make the agency subject to Appropriations Committee oversight failed, according to his office. Amodei is a member of the spending panel.

Rep. Susie Lee, who sits on the Education and Labor Committee, highlighted the bill’s focus on protecting student borrowers. In August, the CFPB’s loan ombudsman publicly resigned accusing Mulvaney’s CFPB of having “turned its back on young people and their financial futures” as well as “shielding bad actors from scrutiny.”

“I just voted for the #ConsumersFirst Act, which reinstates @CFPB’s Student Loan Office to protect students from predatory lenders & for-profit colleges,” Lee wrote on Twitter. “Everyone deserves the chance to get an education w/out drowning in debt.”

Yucca

The House Appropriations Committee Tuesday approved legislation that provided $37.1 billion for the Department of Energy and voted 27 to 25 against a proposal to provide about $74 million to restart the licensing of a national nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain.

Ohio Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur, who is the chairman of the Appropriations Committee’s Energy and Water Subcommittee, said she knew it would be a close vote.

“Well, we knew that it was a very important issue that members felt strongly about,” she said. “We did expect a very close vote, and we’re very pleased with the outcome.”

Kaptur took the lead during the debate in arguing against the amendment, which was offered by Idaho Rep. Mike Simpson, who is the top Republican on the subcommittee.

Kaptur said she heard from all of Nevada’s House Democrats. Rep. Dina Titus employed the help of Pelosi to kill the amendment, while Sen. Jacky Rosen, who served a term in the House before joining the Senate in 2018, talked with several members of the Appropriations Committee.

“As a great Vice President once said, this is a BFD!,” Titus—citing Vice President Joe Biden’s audible, off-mic quip to President Barack Obama at the signing ceremony for the Affordable Care Act—wrote on Twitter following the vote.

Amodei was the only Republican on the committee to vote against the Yucca amendment. After the vote, he indicated that he would want the state to receive compensation for his vote to formally advance the projects.

“If all you’re going to offer me is up or down on a landfill, I’m a ‘no,’” he said coming out of the committee markup.

Attorney General Aaron Ford also celebrated the vote.

“Thank you @repdinatitus, @RepHorsford, @RepSusieLee, and @MarkAmodeiNV2 for leading the charge on the House Appropriations Comm to vote down an amendment for funding for Yucca Mountain,” Ford wrote on Twitter. “As @NevadaAG, I’m proud to work w/ you to ensure that Nevada doesn’t become a dumping ground!”

The committee also approved legislation that would provide $13.79 billion for the Interior Department, which was $833 million above the current funding level and $2.41 billion above the president’s budget request.

Immigration

Cortez Masto took to the Senate floor Thursday to talk about a bill she introduced that would require the administration focus its deportation resources on people who pose a threat to the public.

“I take the floor today to urge my colleagues to halt the President’s indiscriminate deportation machine,” Cortez Masto said.

She criticized how the Trump administration shows little compassion for undocumented people, and she used 30-year Reno resident David Chavez-Macias to make her point.

An otherwise upstanding member of the community who paid his taxes and had hired attorneys to help him become an American citizen, he was deported after he was pulled over in 2013 for turning left as the streetlight changed.

“The previous administration permitted Mr. Chavez-Macias to stay with his family,” she said. “After all, he had a heart condition that required regular treatment, and he had been a hardworking community member for decades. Under this administration, though, David was deported to Mexico, ripping him from his family.”

“We need to pass comprehensive immigration reform,” Cortez Masto said. “But until we come together in a bipartisan way, we must rescind these executive orders that are not moving this debate forward in a useful way.”

At a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing, Rosen highlighted discrepancies between the Department of Homeland Security’s public comments to her in 2018 when she visited the Southern border about the DHS’ ability to reunite separated children with their families, and internal agency emails that reveal that the agency knew it lacked the information needed to connect parents and relatives with children it separated.

“Recent news reports indicate that DHS and [Department of Health and Human Services] officials exchanged emails on June 23rd, 2018, acknowledging that the departments did not have the necessary information to reunite migrant children with their families,” Rosen said. “In the email exchanges, DHS and HHS admitted, and I quote, ‘In short, no, we do not have any linkages from parents to children. We have a list of parent alien numbers but no way to link them to children.’”

She asked Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan why she was told on June 25 that the departments had the necessary information to reunite the families.

McAleenan said the problem is that information needed to reunite families was held by different agencies within the departments and that they have different information technology systems, which are not linked, and that could account for the discrepancies.

“A lack of system integration, interagency” was the issue, he said. “We’re going to fix it. It’s one of my priorities.”

Rosen asked that DHS not mislead the members of Congress again.

Miscellany

Cortez Masto and Rosen cheered the commitment of $106 million to improve Nevada’s public lands through recreational park expansions, wildlife habitat conservation and wildfire prevention efforts.

The funds were committed for 47 projects under the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act (SNPLMA), a 1998 law that requires that funds derived from the sale of federal lands in Clark County be returned to the community through projects evaluated by the Bureau of Land Management and approved by the secretary of the Interior.

The Interior Department held on to the funds for two years as the president’s budgets sought to divert the funds to other purposes. Titus had also been pushing the administration on the matter.

At a House Budget Committee hearing on considerations for establishing a single-payer health care system, Rep. Steven Horsford raised concerns about disruptions to those that receive their health insurance through their employer.

“I want to be clear, I support universal access to health care and I am committed to working with my colleagues to achieve this goal,” Horsford began.

“I believe we must work together to protect health care coverage for individuals who like their current health care plans, expand coverage for Americans who still need it and bring down health care costs for everyone,” he continued.

Forty percent of Nevadans receive their health care through their employer, Horsford said.

He saluted Washington Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal, also a member of the Budget Committee, for introducing her bill, but did not offer his support.  

For a full rundown of the measures the delegates supported or opposed this week, check out The Nevada Independent’s congressional vote tracker and other information below.

SEN. CATHERINE CORTEZ MASTO
Legislation sponsored:
S. 1594 – A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for unlimited eligibility for health care for mental illnesses for veterans of combat service during certain periods of hostilities and war.
S. 1591 – A bill to nullify the effect of the Executive order that makes the vast majority of unauthorized individuals priorities for removal and aims to withhold critical Federal funding to sanctuary cities.
Legislation co-sponsored:
S. 1677 – A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide authority to postpone certain deadlines by reason of State declared disasters or emergencies.
S. 1667– A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to treat certain scholarships as earned income for purposes of the kiddie tax.
S. 1645 – A bill to protect a woman’s ability to determine whether and when to bear a child or end a pregnancy, and to protect a health care provider’s ability to provide reproductive health care services, including abortion services.
S. 1598 – A bill to exempt children of certain Filipino World War II veterans from the numerical limitations on immigrant visas, and for other purposes.
S. 1593– A bill to require the Secretary of Energy to establish an energy storage research program, a demonstration program, and a technical assistance and grant program, and for other purposes.
S. 1556 – A bill to provide that the rule entitled “Short-Term, Limited Duration Insurance” shall have no force or effect.
SEN. JACKY ROSEN
Legislation sponsored:
S. 1645 – A bill to protect a woman’s ability to determine whether and when to bear a child or end a pregnancy, and to protect a health care provider’s ability to provide reproductive health care services, including abortion services
S. 1598 – A bill to exempt children of certain Filipino World War II veterans from the numerical limitations on immigrant visas, and for other purposes.
S. 1591 – A bill to nullify the effect of the Executive order that makes the vast majority of unauthorized individuals priorities for removal and aims to withhold critical Federal funding to sanctuary cities.
S. 1556 – A bill to provide that the rule entitled “Short-Term, Limited Duration Insurance” shall have no force or effect.
REP. DINA TITUS
Legislation co-sponsored:
H.R. 2975 – To protect a woman’s ability to determine whether and when to bear a child or end a pregnancy, and to protect a health care provider’s ability to provide reproductive health care services, including abortion services.
H.R. 2897 – To amend the Animal Welfare Act to allow for the adoption or non-laboratory placement of certain animals used in Federal research, and for other purposes.
REP. SUSIE LEE
Legislation co-sponsored:
H.R. 3010 – To amend title 38, United States Code, to establish a mission statement of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
H.R. 2977 – To amend the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to provide for additional disclosure requirements for corporations, labor organizations, Super PACs and other entities, and for other purposes.
H.R. 2975 – To protect a woman’s ability to determine whether and when to bear a child or end a pregnancy, and to protect a health care provider’s ability to provide reproductive health care services, including abortion services.
H.R. 2908 – To exempt children of certain Filipino World War II veterans from the numerical limitations on immigrant visas, and for other purposes.
REP. STEVEN HORSFORD
Legislation co-sponsored:
H.R. 2977 – To amend the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to provide for additional disclosure requirements for corporations, labor organizations, Super PACs and other entities, and for other purposes.
H.R. 2975 – To protect a woman’s ability to determine whether and when to bear a child or end a pregnancy, and to protect a health care provider’s ability to provide reproductive health care services, including abortion services.
H.R. 2902 – To support States in their work to end preventable morbidity and mortality in maternity care by using evidence-based quality improvement to protect the health of mothers during pregnancy, childbirth, and in the postpartum period and to reduce neonatal and infant mortality, to eliminate racial disparities in maternal health outcomes, and for other purposes.
H.R. 2843 – To decriminalize marijuana, and for other purposes.

Updated June 20, 1:10 p.m. to reflect that Rep. Mike Simpson is from Idaho.  

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