Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., recently put forward a simple, uncontroversial bill to free federal land for development and create hundreds of high-paying jobs in a region that desperately needs them.
What has followed since is a reminder that nothing in Washington is simple and uncontroversial, and that the politics of the Capitol are the enemy of economic recovery.
Rep. Amodei's bill would have enabled the sale of more than 10,000 acres of Bureau of Land Management property near Yerington, about an hour east of Carson City, to develop a copper mine. Rep. Amodei said the legislation - at no cost to taxpayers, mind you - would lead to the creation of about 800 jobs with an average annual salary of $75,000. There is no organized opposition to the bill, not even from hard-core environmentalists.
However, instead of sending the bill through the chamber on its own, House Republican leadership rolled the measure with several others into a larger public lands bill that has Democrats up in arms. Among the other provisions:
- Letting U.S. Border Patrol agents onto federal land with environmental protections that, not coincidentally, are favored by illegal immigrants and smugglers.
- Allowing the logging of old-growth trees on more than 65,000 acres of Alaskan forest.
- Making it easier for states and American Indian tribes to kill sea lions that feast on endangered salmon in the Pacific Northwest.
The bill easily passed the House on Tuesday, but it now has no chance of clearing the Senate. Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., who co-sponsored Rep. Amodei's original bill with Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., joined most Democrats in voting against the larger legislation.
No doubt, this action creates fodder for campaign attacks against Democrats, including Rep. Berkley in her challenge to Republican Sen. Dean Heller. But Nevada doesn't need more political gamesmanship. It needs more jobs.
Rep. Amodei should keep at it.