Senate adds Nevada to border panel

WASHINGTON — Debating a major immigration bill, the Senate agreed Wednesday to give Nevada a seat on a federal commission that would form if authorities fail to secure the border with Mexico in the next five years.

The state would have a representative on the Southern Border Security Commission, a body that would be set up if the Department of Homeland Security fails to come up with a plan that stops 90 percent of illegal border crossings.

The high-level 10-member commission would include the governors of California, New Mexico, Arizona and Texas, and appointees of the president and congressional leaders.

An amendment by Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., would add an 11th seat, for Nevada. It passed 89-9.

“I hope we secure our borders effectively and quickly so that no such commission is ever needed,” Heller said.

But if one becomes necessary, Heller said, “it is more than reasonable to argue that Nevada, which is a short drive away from San Diego, Los Angeles and Phoenix, should be included.”

Heller said Nevada, with a growing Hispanic population, “faces many of the same immigration challenges” as the border states.

Nobody spoke against the amendment, which was co-sponsored by Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.

Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at or 202-783-1760. Follow him on Twitter @STetreaultDC.