the nevada independent logo
The U.S. Capitol at sunset on November 25, 2007. (Courtesy/vgm8383 under Creative Commons)

Concern about diplomats being turned over to Russia following President Donald Trump’s meeting with Vladimir Putin sparked a rare bit of bipartisanship in the Senate last week, while the House passed its Interior Department spending bill and a non-binding no-carbon tax resolution.

The Senate—including Republican Sen. Dean Heller and Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto—approved, 98 to 0 on Thursday a non-binding resolution against making available current and former diplomats, officials, and members of the Armed Forces of the United States for questioning by Russian government.

“I voted, along with my colleagues, to stand up for our country and to ensure that any American who has served our great nation will never be subject to any type of questioning by a dictator like Putin and his regime,” Cortez Masto said in a statement provided by her office.

Heller’s office declined to comment on the vote.

Passage of the resolution was prompted by Trump’s one-on-one meeting with Putin Monday in Helsinki where the Russian head of state talked about the U.S. turning U.S. officials and nationals over to Russia for questioning. During a press conference, Putin specifically named Bill Browder, a businessman who led the effort to pass the Magnitsky Act, a 2012 law that goes after Russian human rights abusers.

The White House had indicated it was considering the idea, which included Russia making 12 intelligence officials indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for meddling in the 2016 election available for questioning. Following a backlash, the White House issued a statement on Thursday, the same day as the Senate vote, opposing the idea.

Trump’s meeting with Putin had heads spinning in Congress with both Republicans and Democrats, including Nevada’s delegation, issuing statements castigating the president to various degrees for, among other things, casting doubt on nation’s intelligence officials over whether Russia interfered in the 2016 election, and validating Putin’s denial.

The harsher rebukes came from Democrats such as Rep. Ruben Kihuen.

“President Trump embarrassed the U.S. at the #HelsinkiSummit and undermined our standing in the world by ignoring the overwhelming consensus of the Intelligence Community & siding with a brutal dictator, Vladimir Putin, while insulting the European Union, one of our key allies,” he tweeted.

Many Republican criticisms, like Heller’s, did not name Trump.

“While I am not opposed to a dialogue between the two leaders, I trust our intelligence community's assessment on Russian interference, not Vladimir Putin's," Heller’s office told the Reno Gazette Journal. "He is no friend of the United States and I don’t trust him.”

Cortez Masto also opposed the Trump administration’s nominee to run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. She said after questioning her Thursday at a Senate Banking Committee hearing that Kathy Kraninger “offers no relevant experience or background that qualifies her to be its next director.”

The Nevada Democrat remains undecided on Judge Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s nominee to join the Supreme Court, while Heller, who met with the judge on Thursday, said he currently has “no reservations in confidently supporting Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation.”

Heller support came despite Kavanaugh having issued a pivotal opinion advancing the plan to build a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain.

In the House, Democratic Reps. Dina Titus, Jacky Rosen and Kihuen all opposed a spending package that included $35.3 billion for the Department of Interior. Despite their opposition, the measure passed 217 to 199. Rep. Mark Amodei, a Republican, voted for the bill.

One problem the Democrats had with the measure was that Republicans defeated an amendment from Illinois Democrat Mike Quigley to add $380 million to protect election integrity.

“This flies in the face of the consensus views of multiple intelligence agencies and state and federal officials who have testified before Congress that our election infrastructure continues to be at risk of foreign attacks,” Titus said in a release.

The House also approved, 229 to 180, a non-binding resolution expressing concern from Congress that a carbon tax would be detrimental to the United States economy. The resolution was also opposed by Titus, Rosen and Kihuen, while supported by Amodei.

Rosen, in a statement from her spokesperson Ivana Brancaccio, said “Congresswoman Rosen does not support a carbon tax."

"Instead of bringing up bills that address climate change, Republicans continue to force votes on legislation that rolls back environmental protections,” said Brancaccio, adding that Rosen “believes we need to find commonsense ways to address this very real issue and threat to our national security."

Last week also saw about 100 members of the Las Vegas business community meet with the state’s congressional delegation and other members of Congress to discuss their priorities including concerns about a trade war.

Amodei talked about the issue with the group, which was led by the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce. He noted that the patience of Republicans and the business community will be tested the longer that trade spats continue.

“We’re willing to give the president a little bit of time to do whatever it is he’s doing, but…there is definitely some antsiness out there,” Amodei told the group.

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.

Legislation co-sponsored:
S. 3231 – A bill to establish the Task Force on the Impact of the Affordable Housing Crisis, and for other purposes.
S. 3213 – A bill to amend the Securities Act of 1933 to subject crowdfunding vehicles to the jurisdiction of the Securities and Exchange Commission, and for other purposes.

Legislation co-sponsored:
S. 3227 – A bill to reunite families separated at or near ports of entry.
S. 3225 – A bill to ensure the humane treatment of pregnant women by reinstating the presumption of release and prohibiting shackling, restraining, and other inhumane treatment of pregnant detainees.

Legislation co-sponsored:
H.R. 6455 – To reauthorize funding for the Urban Search and Rescue Response System.
H.R. 6410 – To provide for the administration of certain national monuments, to establish a National Monument Enhancement Fund, and to establish certain wilderness areas in the States of New Mexico and Nevada.

Legislation sponsored:
H.R. 6392 – Hire Student Veterans Act
Legislation co-sponsored:
H.R. 6437 – To combat subversive activities of the Russian Federation, and for other purposes.
H.R. 6410 – To provide for the administration of certain national monuments, to establish a National Monument Enhancement Fund, and to establish certain wilderness areas in the States of New Mexico and Nevada.

Legislation co-sponsored:
H.R. 6410 – To provide for the administration of certain national monuments, to establish a National Monument Enhancement Fund, and to establish certain wilderness areas in the States of New Mexico and Nevada.

IndyFest 2020
Sat., Oct. 3rdLearn more
Comment Policy (updated 10/4/19): Please keep your comments civil. We reserve the right to delete comments or ban users who engage in personal attacks, use an excess of profanity, make verifiably false statements or are otherwise nasty.
correct us
ideas & story tips