Sandoval, congressional delegation discuss Yucca Mountain, other priorities

WASHINGTON — Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval met with the state’s congressional delegation Tuesday in a run-up to his address before the National Governor’s Association on states’ priorities with a new Trump administration.

Sandoval will speak at the NGA and deliver the State of the States address Wednesday at the Newseum.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, and Sandoval, a Republican, were elected chairman and vice chairman of the association.

Both will speak Wednesday about the priorities of the states as a new Trump administration takes power in Washington.

When the two were elected last summer to their NGA leadership positions, McAullife unveiled an initiative to help states meet the challenge of cyber threats facing the nation.

“As governors, we must be prepared to combat this threat in order to protect the welfare of our citizens,” McAullife said.

The nation’s governors are concerned about Trump administration proposals and congressional action that would repeal the Affordable Care Act without alternative means to provide insurance coverage.

Several Republican governors in Washington last week for Trump inaugural festivities voiced their concern about repealing the act, often known as Obamacare, without a replacement plan. Many of those governors expanded Medicaid coverage in their states, adding more uninsured to the rolls for state and federal assistance.

All states that expanded Medicaid and are participating in the program since 2014 have received more federal money.

The federal government is paying for 100 percent of expansion for the first three years, and then 90 percent following the initial period. So far, about $72.6 billion has been paid out to states because of expansion.

Nevada expanded Medicaid, and gets $1.14 for every dollar it contributes, Mike Walden, Sandoval’s chief of staff, told state lawmakers Tuesday.

The nation’s governors also are preparing for a Trump administration-led infrastructure initiative that he championed during the campaign. Governors have compiled a list of ready projects worthy of federal funding once Congress takes action on legislation. Congressional Democrats have identified $1 trillion in projects over a 10-year period.

Ahead of his speech to the association, Sandoval met with the Nevada congressional delegation to discuss specific state concerns. U.S. Sens. Dean Heller, R-Nev., and Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., attended the meeting, along with U.S. Reps. Dina Titus, Ruben Kihuen and Jacky Rosen, all D-Nev.

U.S. Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., did not attend the meeting because of scheduling conflicts.

The delegation discussed several concerns, including possible efforts by the Trump administration and members of Congress to open Yucca Mountain to nuclear wastes. The bipartisan delegation opposes a Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository.

A Cortez Masto spokesman said the private meeting was helpful.

“They had a very productive conversation,” said Rey Benitez with the senator’s office.

Heller said he met with Sandoval before the delegation meeting to discuss initiatives they’d work on together.

“Things like Interstate 11 and repealing the Cadillac Tax remain important to us, because they are important to Nevadans,” Heller said. “As the delegation’s senior Senator, the Governor knows he has a partner in me to advance the cause of the state.”

Review-Journal writer Sean Whaley contributed to this report. Contact Gary Martin at 202-662-7390 or Follow @garymartindc on Twitter.

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