RENO – Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto pushed back on attacks from potential Republican challenger and former Attorney General Adam Laxalt Monday following a meeting with local stakeholders on ways to kickstart and advance Nevada’s clean energy economy.
The senator also took questions on the evacuee crisis in Afghanistan and the status of a bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure bill, which has passed the Senate but awaits action in the House amid an intra-party dispute among Democrats.
Cortez Masto was to have appeared at the events in Reno Monday with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on which she sits. But Manchin’s travel to Reno was hindered, and eventually canceled, due to the heavy wildfire smoke over the area that caused his rescheduled flight from Denver to be diverted back to its origin.
Laxalt, who announced his candidacy for Cortez Masto’s seat last week, said in an interview with the Review-Journal Friday that the first-term Democrat stands with the “radical left” and that he opposed the infrastructure bill the senator supported as a costly “laundry list of leftist ideas.”
“I think if you’re against this bipartisan infrastructure package then you’re against new jobs for Nevada and economic growth in Nevada,” Cortez Masto said. Pushing back on Laxalt’s broader attack, she added: “People in Nevada know who I am…. This is about how we work together in a bipartisan way to find solutions that are important for our families in our businesses here in this state, particularly as we come out of a pandemic that just devastated our economy.”
In the House, nine moderate Democrats are pushing for an immediate vote on the infrastructure bill, opposing Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s plan to postpone a vote on it until the House takes up a $3.5 trillion spending plan later this year. Manchin, along with Arizona Dem. Sen. Krysten Sinema, supports the moderate House Democrat position on an immediate vote.
Cortez Masto said Monday she supported both bills and said the budget bill is “another piece of what we are doing” to provide the middle class with tax fairness and access to better health and child care.
“I can only focus on my part, which is in the Senate, and we did it,” Cortex Masto said in response to a question on the infrastructure bill’s status in the House. “I think it was important that we passed this bipartisan infrastructure package. It was important that the administration was involved. They’re already on board they support it….Everything that we’ve been talking about is important not just for Nevada, but for the country.”
On the ongoing evacuation of Americans and their dependents from Afghanistan along with refugees seeking to leave the country, she said Nevada “accepts refugees and we should be accepting Afghanistan refugees and that’s something we’re working on as well.
“To the extent that they’re still Americans there and/or allies, obviously it’s not where we want it to be,” she said of U.S. efforts to evacuate populations at risk there. “I’m hearing from constituents just here in Nevada, that have loved ones that we are working with them to get them out of Afghanistan.”