92°F
weather icon Clear

House bill blocks Navy, Air Force from getting more public land

WASHINGTON — A $740 billion defense bill passed by the House on Tuesday includes Nevada measures prohibiting the resumption of explosive nuclear weapons tests and blocks the Air Force from using portions of the Desert National Wildlife Refuge for military training.

The absence of public land transfers to the Air Force and another in Northern Nevada for Naval Air Station Fallon were two of many items in the bill that drew a veto threat from the White House in a memo to Congress from the Office of Management and Budget.

The bill contains a 3 percent pay raise for military personnel. Nevada is home to four military installations with more than 10,000 active-duty troops and airmen.

House lawmakers passed the bill on a 295-125 vote. Nevada Democrats Dina Titus, Steven Horsford and Susie Lee voted for passage. The state’s lone Republican, Mark Amodei, voted against it.

Horsford, whose congressional district includes military installations and the desert wildlife refuge, called passage of the bill “a victory for Nevada.”

Amodei said the presidential veto threat provides leverage for the expansion of the Fallon training range if local officials agree to the transfer of public, state and private lands and that provision is included in a final bill.

A Senate bill to authorize defense spending is expected to pass later this week. Differences in the two pieces of legislation will go to a House-Senate conference committee to iron out.

“Everyone is playing for the conference on this, including me,” Amodei said.

The Air Force and Navy are seeking more training space in Nevada to accommodate developing technology and tactics.

President Donald Trump also threatened to veto the House-passed defense bill over language to remove the names of Confederate leaders from military installations.

The White House also listed the language blocking 840,000 acres of the desert refuge to the Air Force for training as a reason to veto the legislation.

Still, passage of the bill with the Nevada provisions was hailed by Democrats who sought protection of the Desert National Wildlife Refuge, just north of Las Vegas.

Horsford offered the amendment to block the Air Force from expanding training missions into the refuge, adjacent to the Nevada Test and Training Range. The amendment passed on a voice vote.

Conservation and environmental groups lobbied Congress to stop the expansion into the refuge, home to bighorn sheep and areas of cultural significance to Native Americans.

“It’s a thrilling incremental victory,” said Patrick Donnelly, Nevada director for the Center for Biological Diversity.

The amendment would keep control of the refuge under the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Also included in the bill is an amendment by Titus that would prohibit the Trump administration from resuming explosive nuclear weapons testing. The last underground test occurred at the Nevada National Security Site in 1992.

Titus called a resumption of explosive tests “dangerous and unnecessary,” and warned it could lead to a global arms race. Republicans opposed the amendment, arguing that it limited resumption of future testing by the United States in response to tests by other countries.

The National Nuclear Security Administration maintains the weapons stockpile and has no immediate plans to resume explosive testing, a spokeswoman said.

House lawmakers voted largely along party lines on the Titus amendment, which passed 227-179. Nevada Democrats Titus, Horsford and Lee, supported the amendment. Amodei voted with Republicans against the measure.

Amodei said the language sends “the wrong message to our competitors.”

Contact Gary Martin at gmartin@reviewjournal.com or 202-662-7390. Follow @garymartindc on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Sisolak names new DETR director, head of unemployment task force - VIDEO
Gov. Steve Sisolak named Elisa Cafferata acting director of Nevada’s Department of Training, Employment and Rehabilitation and announced Barbara Buckley as the leader of a rapid response team on unemployment insurance at a press briefing Thursday afternoon. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sisolak unveils long-term COVID-19 plan with Nevada Health Response team - VIDEO
Gov. Steve Sisolak announced Monday a long-term strategy for mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in Nevada through a targeted approach. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sisolak: Bars in four counties to stay closed - VIDEO
Gov. Steve Sisolak said bars in four counties, including Clark County, will remain closed to help fight COVID-19. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
COVID-19 case reported at Legislature's special session - Video
A person who was inside the Nevada Legislature Building has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, Legislative Counsel Bureau Director Brenda Erdoes said Friday, July 10. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trump Pushing for Reopening Schools and In-Person Learning - Video
Donald Trump launched an effort on Wednesday to reopen schools across the United States with in-person learning.
Special session to tackle $1.2B budget deficit in special session Wednesday - VIDEO
Closing the state’s $1.2 billion budget hole will be the prime focus of the upcoming special legislative session that will convene at 9 a.m. Wednesday in Carson City, according to a proclamation issued by Gov. Steve Sisolak. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Lawmakers to tackle $1.2B budget deficit in special session Wednesday - VIDEO
Closing the state’s $1.2 billion budget hole will be the prime focus of the upcoming special legislative session that will convene at 9 a.m. Wednesday in Carson City, according to a proclamation issued by Gov. Steve Sisolak. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Clark County Democratic leaders resign
Several key Clark County Democratic Party leaders have resigned as progressive leadership has swelled in recent months.
Dream Big Nevada celebrates DACA ruling - VIDEO
The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday rejected President Donald Trump’s effort to end legal protections under DACA for 650,000 young immigrants. Astrid Silva, founder of Dream Big Nevada, discusses the temporary victory and the next step for Dreamers.
Councilwoman Michele Fiore walks out of city council meeting - Video
Las Vegas Councilwoman Michele Fiore walks out of a City Council meeting during public comments.
Mitt Romney marches in Washington, D.C., protest - Video
On Sunday, Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah joined a group of protesters marching through Washington, D.C. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada gyms, bars that do not serve food can reopen Friday - VIDEO
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak on Tuesday evening said Phase 2 of the state’s Nevada United: Roadmap to Recovery will begin on Friday. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada Rep. Horsford admits to having affair - VIDEO
Nevada Congressman Steven Horsford admitted to having an affair with Gabriela Linder, a former intern for Sen. Harry Reid. Linder detailed her account of the affair in a podcast she called, "Mistress for Congress." (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST
NY attorney general sues NRA over financial practices, seeks dissolution

New York’s attorney general sued the National Rifle Association on Thursday, seeking to put the powerful gun advocacy organization out of business over allegations that high-ranking executives diverted millions of dollars for lavish personal trips, no-show contracts for associates and other questionable expenditures.