WASHINGTON — A new budget deal that authorizes federal money for domestic programs that could benefit Nevada swayed the majority of the state’s congressional lawmakers to vote Friday for the bipartisan agreement that lifts caps on spending by $300 billion over two years.
But Nevada lawmakers denounced the congressional dysfunction and the need for another stopgap spending bill that keeps the government running until March 23, when Congress must pass legislation to fund federal operations in fiscal year 2018, which began Oct. 1.
Most of the ire was directed at the Senate, where conservative Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., blocked a vote Thursday on the budget deal and the stopgap spending bill that prompted a government shutdown overnight.
Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., said that while he did not vote against the package like Paul, “I agree with his analysis and criticism of the Senate’s sad present culture.”
“The Senate’s addiction to doing the nation’s business in a small room with the door closed at the last minute is embarrassing — and shameful,” Amodei said.
Nonetheless, Amodei, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, and Rep. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., voted with the majority to pass the legislation in the House, 240-186. Reps. Dina Titus, D-Nev., and Ruben Kihuen, both of Las Vegas, voted against it.
Titus said the bill does not fund the government for the next two years, “as some are suggesting. It merely sets authorizing guidelines that are little more than paper promises.”
In the Senate, both Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., supported the bill, which passed on a 71-28 vote.
The budget deal includes an extension of funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, a high priority for Gov. Brian Sandoval. The deal would extend funding from six to 10 years.
Other items important for Nevada include a two-year reauthorization for funding Community Health Centers, funding increases for Veterans Affairs hospitals and clinics, more money to fight the opioid crisis and infrastructure projects.
Cortez Masto called the budget deal a breakthrough, even though it does not address immigrants who were brought here illegally as children and who face possible deportation when an Obama-era policy ends March 5.
The plight of those immigrants, known as Dreamers, has been a major point of contention between Republican and Democratic budget negotiators.
Cortez Masto said she supported the budget deal reached “as a commitment to investing in priorities important to Nevadans while giving time to reach a bipartisan compromise that puts Dreamers on a pathway to citizenship.”
Senate debate on legislation to address the Dreamers begins Monday.
House GOP leadership have not promised to take up a Dreamer bill. Kihuen said he could not support the bill Friday “without a permanent resolution for Dreamers.”
Heller, who is seeking re-election this year, and Rosen, a Democratic challenger, both cited money for the military, as well domestic programs that would aid Nevada in their statements about their votes in favor.
Heller bemoaned the need to pass “yet another” stopgap bill, and Rosen deplored Republican leadership for holding the lives of Dreamers “hostage for political gain.”