In their first days in control of the House, Democrats approved legislation to end the partial government shutdown, but the bill will not be considered by the GOP-controlled Senate as it does not include the $5 billion for the southern border wall demanded by President Donald Trump.
The House worked only Thursday and Friday last week with the New Year’s holiday taking up the earlier part of the week. But that was plenty of time for House Democrats to reiterate their position that they do not intend to provide any additional funding over the $1.3 billion for border security provided for the previous fiscal year.
“We’re not doing a wall,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday.
The vote, held Thursday, was among the first taken by Nevada’s newest members of Congress, Democrats Steven Horsford and Susie Lee. Both voted in favor of the legislation, which offered no new money for border security. Democratic Rep. Dina Titus also voted for the measure. The bill passed 239 to 192, with five Republicans voting with Democrats.
Nevada Republican Rep. Mark Amodei was not among those GOP crossovers. He opposed the bill because he supports increasing funding for border security and questioned the rationale of passing a bill that the president has said he would not sign into law.
“This ‘show vote’ messaging tactic – driven solely by House Democrat’s refusal to prioritize funding for border security – simply adds more fuel to the political fire and does nothing to solve the problem,” he said in a release. “Having been here for a while now, I cannot recall a government shutdown by either side that proved to be an effective or a responsible tool for resolving policy disputes.”
Shortly after the bill was approved by the House, the White House issued a statement detailing its objections to the bill.
“For FY 2019, the Administration has made it clear that the Government needs an investment of at least $5 billion for border security, along with the flexibility necessary to utilize these funds efficiently,” the White House said. “The appropriations bill…does not come close to providing these necessary investments and authorities.”
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell cited the White House opposition as among the reasons he would not hold a vote on the measure.
A meeting was held at the White House Friday to negotiate an end to the shutdown, but little, if any, progress was made.
Trump told reporters the meeting was “productive.” But Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer were less optimistic. “[H]e said he’d keep the government closed for a very long period of time. Months or even years,” Schumer said after the meeting.
Trump also confirmed to reporters that he told Schumer he was willing to keep the government closed to get the additional funding. “I did say that. Absolutely, I said that,” Trump told reporters. “I don’t think it will, but I am prepared.”
Another White House meeting with House and Senate has been scheduled for Saturday morning.
Lee announced Thursday that she would not take a salary while the government is shut down. She joins Democratic Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen, who both said they would donate their salaries to Nevada charities.
The House also chose Pelosi as speaker—her second stint as the top lawmaker in the House. She needed a majority of the House to win the gavel and received 220 Democratic votes, including Titus, Lee and Horsford, who had declined to say whether he would support Pelosi in the weeks leading up to the vote.
A Democratic-authored package of rules for the 116th Congress, the two-year legislative session, was also approved, mostly with Democratic votes. That package included a provision, known as pay-as-you-go, or PAYGO, that requires any new spending to be offset by new revenue or spending cuts elsewhere in the budget. All three Nevada Democrats — Titus, Horsford and Lee — voted for the package. Amodei opposed the rules proposal.
The package also reinstated a version of the so-called Gephardt rule. Named for former House Majority Leader Richard A. Gephardt, a Democrat from Missouri, the rule allows for the debt ceiling to be raised as part of the annual budget resolution process. The rule avoids, in the House, the typically difficult vote to raise the federal debt ceiling, which has to be lifted or suspended when the nation hits its statutory limit on the amount of debt that can be carried.
The rules also established a committee to explore solutions to climate change, a committee to modernize how the Congress operates, bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity and allows religious headwear to be worn on the House floor.
Meanwhile, there were no votes in the Senate last week, but Rosen was sworn in as Nevada’s junior senator.
In an interview, she talked about her desire to work with Trump on issues important to Nevada such as health care and education, but she lamented his unpredictability and his incivility.
“I think it’s hard to predict what the president will talk about on any given day and unfortunately it puts us, even those in his own party, in a reactive mode instead of a proactive mode,” Rosen said.
“Wherever we can find consensus that’s good for Nevada, I am going to work with anybody and when I have to I am going to stand up and fight,” she continued, adding “I believe he has some shortcomings in the civility department.”
Trump campaigned for Rosen’s opponent, Republican Sen. Dean Heller, and he referred to her as “Wacky Jacky.”
Cortez Masto, who campaigned for Rosen, welcomed her arrival in the Senate. She also praised Nicholas Trutanich, who was confirmed by the Senate on a voice vote last week.
“Nicholas Trutanich is a public servant who has served Nevada well,” she said in a release. “I believe he will continue that good work on behalf of the Silver State as our next U.S. Attorney. I look forward to working with him and I will continue to do all I can to ensure that this Administration nominates dedicated public servants that uphold the rule of law and ensure fair and efficient justice for everyone in the State of Nevada.”
Nominated on July, Trutanich will oversee the investigation and litigation of all criminal and civil cases brought on behalf of the United States in the District of Nevada.
Prior to joining Attorney General Adam Laxalt’s office, Trutanich served six years as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Central District of California, including as a supervisor in the Violent and Organized Crime Section and as the gang coordinator in the Los Angeles office.
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
S. 24 – A bill to provide for compensation of Federal and other government employees affected by lapses in appropriations.
REP. DINA TITUS
H.R. 197 – To ensure independent investigations and judicial review of the removal of a special counsel, and for other purposes.
H.R. 97 – To amend the State Department Basic Authorities Act of 1956 to authorize rewards for thwarting wildlife trafficking linked to transnational organized crime, and for other purposes.
H.R. 51 – To provide for the admission of the State of Washington, D.C. into the Union.
REP. MARK AMODEI
H.R. 61 – To require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint coins in commemoration of the Carson City Mint 150th anniversary, and for other purposes.