D.C. Download: Nevada Democrats raise voices in border debate as Title 42 expires

13 May 2023

The border was the hottest topic in Congress this week as Title 42 expired, Sen. Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) defended Israel after taking offense to an event held by a House Democrat, and senators discussed energy permitting reform.

House Republicans pass border bill as Title 42 expires

Title 42, the statute deployed by both the Trump and Biden administrations to swiftly expel migrants at the southern border during the public health emergency, came to an end Thursday night, prompting criticism from Republicans and some Nevada Democrats over the expected influx of migrants at the border.

A longtime target of most Democrats, Title 42 permitted Customs and Border Patrol agents to remove migrants without any asylum processing, drawing humanitarian concerns. But Rosen, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Rep. Susie Lee (D-NV), all of whom supported the use of the authority in the past, citing the absence of a better plan, continued to draw contrasts between themselves and the Biden administration, calling officials “insufficiently prepared” to handle the situation.

(For more on their letter to the president detailing these concerns, read my story from Wednesday.)

President Joe Biden said he expects the border to be “chaotic for a while.” But the administration — in a move some see as centrist positioning in advance of the election — announced several steps to expand legal migration access while cracking down on illegal crossings.

“Starting tonight, people who arrive at the border without using a lawful pathway will be presumed ineligible for asylum,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement. “We are ready to humanely process and remove people without a legal basis to remain in the U.S. … Do not believe the lies of smugglers. The border is not open.”

To that end, the department has sent thousands of troops, contracts and more than 1,000 asylum officers to assist the 24,000 agents already at the border. People caught illegally crossing the border will be barred from reentry for five years — a policy that did not exist under Title 42, leading to a cycle of deportations and recrossings. 

On the expansion side, administration officials said they will be opening new regional processing centers in South America and expediting refugee resettlement processing.

Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV), who serves on the House Homeland Security Committee, said she would need to study the issue more, but that the administration is “trying to make the best of a difficult situation.”

And most parties, from Democrats in Congress who believe the administration is not cracking down enough to progressives who believe Biden is engaging in the same humanitarian abuses that the Trump administration became infamous for, think congressional action is the only permanent fix. 

“We all recognize in this administration, that there is no lasting solution to this challenge that we are seeing on our border, that we have been seeing now for more than 15 years … that doesn’t involve the U.S. Congress updating our immigration and asylum statutes,” a senior administration official said in a background briefing with reporters.

Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV) agrees with that assessment, frequently naming congressional inaction on immigration as one of his biggest frustrations. But he said the Biden administration has done a uniquely poor job. Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump filled the vacuum left by Congress, while Biden has expanded it, he said.

He said he was proud to vote for House Republicans’ border bill, passed Thursday with the support of all but two Republicans and no Democrats, in order to address the issue. The Republicans’ bill, which will be dead on arrival in the Senate and rejected by the president, would revert much of the immigration policy back to the Trump era, including mandating completion of the border wall, continuing to hold asylum applicants in Mexico or in detention facilities, deporting unaccompanied minors, and requiring companies use e-Verify to screen for undocumented workers. 

The bill would also tamp down on legal channels of immigration, including barring the use of an app for prospective immigrants to schedule required interviews and cutting funding for nonprofits that aid migrants.

“Doing nothing is intolerable,” Amodei said in an interview. “I’d much rather be criticized for what I did than what I didn’t do.”

Rosen upset over pro-Palestinian event in Senate

On Wednesday morning, Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV), a congressional leader on fighting antisemitism and supporting Israel, met with Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff and domestic policy council director Susan Rice as part of a Capitol Hill summit she convened on the White House’s efforts to combat antisemitism.

On Wednesday evening, she was speaking out against members of her own party over a Palestinian event held in the Senate that she found offensive.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), the first Palestinian-American woman to serve in Congress, sought to host a dinner event commemorating the 75th anniversary of what Israelis refer to as their independence and Palestinians call the “nakba,” an Arabic word meaning “catastrophe.”

But her event, titled “Nakba 75 & the Palestinian People,” was canceled by Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who used his power as the House leader to block her from using any House rooms for the gathering, saying he would not permit members of Congress to “traffic in antisemitic tropes” in the Capitol. Several groups attending Tlaib’s event support the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which aims to put international economic pressure on Israel.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), a progressive ally of Tlaib, let the event go on in the room of the committee he chairs on the Senate side of the Capitol.

Rosen became the first Democratic senator to speak out against the use of Senate space for the event Wednesday night in a statement to Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod, saying Israel was founded “as a refuge for the Jewish people fleeing millennia of antisemitic persecution and violence.”

“Calling the establishment of the world’s only Jewish state a ‘catastrophe’ is deeply offensive, and I strongly disagree with allowing this event to be held on Capitol Hill,” she said. “Let me be absolutely clear: The United States is and will always remain a stalwart ally of the State of Israel.”

She was backed up by several prominent Jewish groups, including the leaders of the Anti-Defamation League and the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish American Organizations. 

Sanders, a frequent critic of Israel, is also Jewish — underscoring the varying opinions of Jewish Americans on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Just Checking In

Energy permitting reform

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has reignited the charge for permitting reform, holding a hearing in the Energy & Natural Resources Committee on the topic Thursday as a potential area of bipartisan compromise.

Permitting reform is a key part of the debt limit bill House Republicans passed, specifically for oil and gas projects. The White House has called for speeding up permitting, albeit in a different form, with more of a focus on electric transmission and renewable energy. Cortez Masto questioned witnesses, all of whom were representatives from various energy sectors, on the effect of judges blocking the Rosemont copper mine and the need for lithium mining, in particular, in Nevada.

The issue blends two of Cortez Masto’s biggest priorities: position Nevada to take advantage of the clean-energy transition, especially as it relates to the manufacturing of electric vehicles, and supporting the mining industry. She said the mining industry needs to take on greater accountability and responsibility for the environment, while environmentalists must now have a vested interest in the future of mining, given its importance toward electric vehicle production.

“Nevada is the growing nexus for our clean-energy and critical mineral future,” Cortez Masto said. “It really is the only state that encompasses every facet of the critical mineral and advanced battery economy.”

In her questioning of Rich Nolan, president of the National Mining Association, the two agreed that narrow interpretations of the 1872 mining law could stop progress on lithium mining, despite objections from environmentalists. Nolan praised her Mining Regulatory Clarity Act, a pro-mining bill addressing judicial regulation of mining by allowing mining companies to use neighboring public lands next to established claims for “ancillary uses,” such as dumping waste.

“The Rosemont decision has had a chilling effect on projects being able to expand and move forward,” Nolan said. “I appreciate your leadership on that issue.”

Debt limit

As congressional leaders and President Biden negotiate over a debt limit agreement, Rep. Steven Horsford (D-NV) got into a heated negotiation of his own with Republicans during a subcommittee hearing on bank failures.

In an Oversight and Investigations subcommittee hearing of the House Financial Services Committee, Horsford used his allotted time to draw comparisons between Congress and the boards of directors for Silicon Valley and Signature banks, saying both were in derelict of their duties to perform effective risk management. By not passing a clean debt ceiling bill, Horsford said House Republicans were holding America and its financing abilities ransom.

When he name-checked Speaker Kevin McCarthy, the hearing devolved into a back-and-forth, as Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO) jumped in and Chairman Bill Huizenga (R-MI) reprimanded Horsford.

“Clearly, I’ve hit a nerve,” Horsford said, going on to finish his analogy.

Huizenga then accused Horsford of playing games, to which the Nevadan drew umbrage.

“The only game being played is by the other side failing to do its job,” Horsford said, as Huizenga tried to gavel him out and declare him out of order. “I don’t mind being out of order for the American people.”

Huizenga accused Horsford of not acting like an adult, which prompted Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), the ranking member of the full committee, to jump in, saying Democrats did not need to be admonished.

Wagner, whose allotted time was next, got the last word.

“I would remind my good friend from Nevada, Mr. Horsford, [that] the only body in Congress or the administration that has passed a debt ceiling are the Republicans of the United States House of Representatives,” she said, referring to Republicans’ act that would temporarily raise the debt ceiling in exchange for a wave of cuts across federal agencies.

Around the Capitol

The National Republican Congressional Committee slammed Nevada’s House Democrats for voting against Republicans’ border bill. “Joe Biden, Susie Lee, Dina Titus, and Steven Horsford broke the border and Nevadans will be less safe because of their extreme open borders policies,” press secretary Ben Petersen said in a statement.

Spotted on the floor this week: Amodei and Titus in animated conversation on the House floor. Amodei told me they were discussing the yet-to-be-introduced Clark County lands bill.

Amodei reintroduced the Northern Nevada Economic Development and Conservation Act, a lands bill that would add conservation protections to more than 450,000 acres of land in exchange for conveying various parcels of federal land in Northern Nevada for economic development. The bill was not taken up by the last Congress.

The race to take on Lee in NV-03 is heating up, with Drew Johnson, a conservative government waste commentator and the Vegas Golden Knights’ “Flamingo Man,” entering the field.

Rosen took the lead on a letter from 30 Senate Democrats asking Senate appropriators to fund a veterans’ program providing rental assistance and case management at a minimum of the FY2023 level.

Cortez Masto is sponsoring a bill to improve access to federal grants for rural counties that are mostly made up of untaxable federal land.

The University of Nevada, Reno will receive nearly $1 million from the National Science Foundation’s Regional Innovations Program for lithium battery research.

Rosen introduced a bill requiring the president to sanction drug cartels involved in trafficking fentanyl, as well as cracking down on money laundering in the fentanyl trade.

Notable and Quotable

“Clearly not the easy way to do it if you’re running for president, huh?”

Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV), on former President Donald Trump being held civilly liable for sexual abuse

Legislative Tracker

SEN. CATHERINE CORTEZ MASTO

Legislation sponsored:

S.1579 — A bill to improve the process for awarding grants under certain programs of the Department of Transportation to certain counties in which the majority of land is owned or managed by the federal government and to other units of local government and tribal governments in those counties, and for other purposes.

S.1580 — A bill to improve the process for awarding grants under certain programs of the Department of Agriculture to certain counties in which the majority of land is owned or managed by the federal government and to other units of local government and tribal governments in those counties, and for other purposes.

Legislation co-sponsored:

S.Res.201 — A resolution supporting the goals and ideals of National Nurses Week, to be observed from May 6-12, 2023.

S.Res.205 — A resolution supporting the designation of May 10, 2023, as “National Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Mental Health Day.”

S.1514 — A bill to amend the National Housing Act to establish a mortgage insurance program for first responders, and for other purposes.

S.1515 — A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to permit retired members of the uniformed services who have a service-connected disability to receive both disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs for their disability and either retired pay by reason of their years of military service of Combat-Related Special Compensation, and for other purposes.

S.1546 — A bill to authorize the Secretary of Education to award grants to eligible entities to carry out educational programs that include the history of peoples of Asian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander descent in the settling and founding of America, the social, economic and political environments that led to the development of discriminatory laws targeting Asians, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders and their relation to current events, and the impact and contributions of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders to the development and enhancement of American life, United States history, literature, the economy, politics, body of laws and culture, and for other purposes.

S.Res.209 — A resolution recognizing the significance of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month as an important time to celebrate the significant contributions of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders to the history of the United States.

S.1551 — A bill to amend title 49, United States Code, to establish an Office of Consumer Protection in the Department of Transportation, and for other purposes.

S.1554 — A bill to grant a federal charter to the National American Indian Veterans,Inc.

S.1581 — A bill to remove college cost as a barrier to every student having access to a well-prepared and diverse educator workforce, and for other purposes.

SEN. JACKY ROSEN

Legislation sponsored:

S.Res.203 — A resolution recognizing the significance of Jewish American Heritage Month as a time to celebrate the contributions of Jewish Americans to the society and culture of the United States.

Legislation co-sponsored:

S.Res.205 — A resolution supporting the designation of May 10, 2023, as “National Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Mental Health Day.”

S.1515 — A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to permit retired members of the uniformed services who have a service-connected disability to receive both disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs for their disability and either retired pay by reason of their years of military service of Combat-Related Special Compensation, and for other purposes.

S.1546 — A bill to authorize the Secretary of Education to award grants to eligible entities to carry out educational programs that include the history of peoples of Asian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander descent in the settling and founding of America, the social, economic and political environments that led to the development of discriminatory laws targeting Asians, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders and their relation to current events, and the impact and contributions of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders to the development and enhancement of American life, United States history, literature, the economy, politics, body of laws and culture, and for other purposes.

S.Res.208 — A resolution expressing support for the designation of November 12, 2023, as “National Warrior Call Day” and recognizing the importance of connecting warriors in the United States to support structures necessary to transition from the battlefield, especially peer-to-peer connection.

S.Res.209 — A resolution recognizing the significance of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month as an important time to celebrate the significant contributions of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders to the history of the United States.

S.Res.211 — A resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that public servants should be commended for their dedication and continued service to the United States during Public Service Recognition Week.

S.1554 — A bill to grant a federal charter to the National American Indian Veterans Inc.

REP. DINA TITUS

Legislation sponsored:

H.R.3197 — To make demonstration grants to eligible local educational agencies or consortia of eligible local educational agencies for the purpose of increasing the numbers of school nurses in public elementary schools and secondary schools.

Legislation co-sponsored:

H.Res.372 — Expressing support for the designation of May 2023 as “Mental Health Awareness Month.”

H.R.3143 — To direct the Secretary of Education to award grants to eligible entities to carry out teacher leadership programs, and for other purposes.

H.R.3183 — To amend the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 to remove certain eligibility disqualifications that restrict otherwise eligible students enrolled in institutions of higher education from participating in the supplemental nutrition assistance program, and for other purposes.

H.R.3184 — To establish a grant program to provide assistance to local law enforcement agencies, and for other purposes.

H.R.3207 — To establish a grant program to address the crises in accessing affordable housing and child care through the co-location of housing and child care, and for other purposes.

H.R.3233 — To remove college cost as a barrier to every student having access to a well-prepared and diverse educator workforce, and for other purposes.

H.R.3238 — To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to reform the low-income housing credit, and for other purposes.

H.R.3255 — To amend title 49, United States Code, with respect to sick leave for certain employees of class I railroads, and for other purposes.

H.R.3264 — To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide a refundable tax credit for certain teachers as a supplement to state efforts to provide teachers with a livable wage, and for other purposes.

REP. MARK AMODEI

Legislation sponsored:

​​H.R.3173 — To provide for transfer of ownership of certain federal lands in Northern Nevada, to authorize the disposal of certain federal lands in Northern Nevada for economic development, to promote conservation in Northern Nevada, and for other purposes.

Legislation co-sponsored:

H.R.3175 — To require agencies to repeal existing regulations before issuing a new regulation, and for other purposes.

H.R.3232 — To amend title 10, United States Code, to direct the forgiveness or offset of an overpayment of retired pay paid to a joint account for a period after the death of the retired member of the Armed Forces.

REP. SUSIE LEE

Legislation sponsored:

H.R.3240 — To amend title 36, United States Code, to grant a federal charter to the Veterans Association of Real Estate Professionals.

Legislation co-sponsored:

H.Res.372 — Expressing support for the designation of May 2023 as “Mental Health Awareness Month.”

H.Res.374 — Supports the designation of “ALS Awareness Month.”

H.Res.381 — Supporting the mission and goals of National Fentanyl Awareness Day in 2023, including increasing individual and public awareness of the impact of fake or counterfeit fentanyl pills on families and young people.

H.Res.385 — Supporting the designation of May 10, 2023, as “National Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Mental Health Day.”

H.R.3184 — To establish a grant program to provide assistance to local law enforcement agencies, and for other purposes.

H.Res.390 — Recognizing the significance of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month as an important time to celebrate the significant contributions of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders to the history of the United States.

H.R.3235 — To grant a federal charter to the National American Indian Veterans Inc.

H.R.3238 — To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to reform the low-income housing credit, and for other purposes.

REP. STEVEN HORSFORD

Legislation co-sponsored:

H.R.3183 — To amend the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 to remove certain eligibility disqualifications that restrict otherwise eligible students enrolled in institutions of higher education from participating in the supplemental nutrition assistance program, and for other purposes.

H.R.3184 — To establish a grant program to provide assistance to local law enforcement agencies, and for other purposes.

The post D.C. Download: Nevada Democrats raise voices in border debate as Title 42 expires appeared first on The Nevada Independent.

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