House panel OKs Mount Reagan but no deal on Dem-sought peak

WASHINGTON — A House committee on Wednesday approved naming a mountain peak outside Las Vegas for Ronald Reagan but a potential deal that would have named a second summit for a Democrat fell through.

Lawmakers and staff on the Natural Resources Committee had discussed adding an amendment to name a second peak on Frenchman Mountain — actually the highest peak — after former Nevada Lt. Gov. Maude Frazier, the first woman to serve in that post.

But there was no mention of a possible “Maude Frazier Mountain” when the Republican-controlled panel passed a “Mount Reagan” bill by voice vote.

Instead, Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., proposed putting Reagan’s name on Yucca Mountain, the once-proposed site for a nuclear waste installation that still is highly controversial among Nevadans. Reagan in 1987 signed the law that authorized the site.

With tongue somewhat in cheek, DeFazio said the peak selected for Reagan wasn’t even the biggest on Frenchman Mountain, and the 40th president deserved something grander in the way of recognition.

The “internationally known” Yucca Mountain “is the best way he could be honored and commemorated by the people of Nevada,” DeFazio said.

The amendment was killed by Republicans by voice vote after Chairman Doc Hastings, R-Wash., said he would credit DeFazio “for being creative.”

The “Mount Reagan” bill was sponsored by Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev.

Las Vegas activist Chuck Muth has campaigned to name a Nevada landmark after the conservative icon, whose admirers among conservatives have pushed to place his name on things in every state and county.

There are 134 U.S. schools, streets and landmarks named after Reagan, according to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

At the House meeting, Rep. Jared Huffman, D-Calif., suggested naming the planet after Reagan, so that maybe then Republicans would take global warming seriously.

The Maude Frazier bill was backed by Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev. Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, the chairman of the House public lands subcommittee, said he was prepared to accept an amendment that would have named “Maude Frazier Mountain” alongside the Reagan peak. He said Democrats chose not to offer it.

“It would have been added in, we were ready to do that,” he said. “If (Democrats) were serious this would have been the best place for it.”

But Titus. who is not a Reagan fan, said there was never a deal, and doubted Democrats would have gone for one.

“Joe Heck never contacted me,” Titus said. “Chuck Muth never contacted me. I’ve had no conversation with them about some kind of compromise. If Joe Heck wanted it why didn’t he put it in his district? There are a lot of mountains in Nevada.”

A “Mount Reagan” might pass the Republican House, but won’t pass the Democrat-controlled Senate, Titus said.

“It’s a long time until the fat lady sings,” she said.

Contact Steve Tetreault at stetreault@stephensmedia.com or 202-783-1760. Find him on Twitter: @STetreaultDC.