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April 25, 2014

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Politics:

House will vote on Senate compromise, but Nevada Republicans aren’t completely satisfied

The House won’t put up a last-minute fight against a Senate compromise to restore the budget and avert the debt ceiling.

But Nevada Republicans aren’t too thrilled about the way the crisis is coming to a close.

“I kind of feel like Davy Crockett at the Alamo,” Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., said coming out of a meeting of House GOP on Wednesday afternoon. (Crockett died at the Alamo, and Texas lost the fight to Mexico.) “It’ll pass … but clearly it’s a victory for the forces of the status quo.”

Republicans spent weeks fighting against the idea of passing a clean resolution to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling. They wanted to use the fiscal moment to secure some commitments about spending cuts and curtail some of the funding for the Affordable Care Act.

What they ended up with is a three-month budget measure and debt ceiling measure that makes only slight changes to the health care law, such as instituting a new income verification requirement for anyone seeking insurance subsidies on the new health care exchanges.

There are other additions to the budget resolution, as well, that should interest Nevada. Key among them is extra funding for wildfire prevention — $600 million for the U.S. Forest Service and $36 million for the Department of the Interior — and an extra $2.455 billion for the Veterans Administration’s operating expenses, a line item intended to help reduce the backlog of claims, which rose to a nation-leading worst in Nevada.

Amodei and Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., spent Wednesday reviewing those provisions along with the rest of Congress. The Senate compromise draft was not completed until Wednesday afternoon.

But while Nevada’s Democrats all said they were eager to take votes in favor of the legislation, Nevada’s Republicans said they were not sure how they plan to vote.

“Nobody wants the government shut down, nobody wants default — in the final analysis, everybody will agree on that,” Amodei said. “But you’re still left with all the same problems.”

Amodei said he worried that in three months, when the current deal runs out, Republicans would be pushed to the wall to yield to Democrats’ demands again.

“Now the sequester’s under attack, the Budget Control Act is under attack,” Amodei said, referring to the 2011 law and subsequent across-the-board cuts that constricted federal spending.

The current deal’s fiscal 2014 spending level, $986.3 billion, is actually higher than what was agreed to under the sequester and BCA.

“Remember that argument about ‘it’s the law, we can’t change it’?” Amodei said, referring to the argument Democrats have made against changing any aspect of Obamacare. “Guess what? It isn’t going to apply to the sequester, and it isn’t going to apply to the Budget Control Act.”

Heck and Amodei both said they got no pressure from House Speaker John Boehner and other party leaders to vote one way or the other on the bill during Wednesday afternoon’s meeting — a short one, clocking in at under 20 minutes.

“Here’s where we’re at, this is how we got here, this is what’s going to happen; vote your conscience,” Heck said, summarizing the meeting. “It was a pep talk. … Well, it was an attempt at a pep talk.”

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