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September 16, 2014

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Nevada House delegation unanimously backs bipartisan, $1 trillion federal spending plan for 2014

Nevada’s House delegation voted en masse Wednesday afternoon in favor of the bipartisan 2014 appropriations bill, a sign lawmakers have moved past some of the interparty acrimony that led to a government shutdown just a few months ago.

The vote was 359 to 67, and once the Senate passes the measure later this week, there will be no more threat of shutdowns until at least October 1.

Appropriations committee chairs of the Republican-controlled House and Democratic-controlled Senate agreed on a $1 trillion spending bill to cover the rest of fiscal 2014 that restores some funding to many defense and education programs, such as Nellis Air Force Base and Head Start, that experienced a heavy chop under last year’s sequestration measures.

But elsewhere, there were tradeoffs to keep appropriations within the spending limits of the budget agreement passed before the holiday break.

For example, the legislation puts in more money for border security but less for airport security.

It includes a 1 percent pay raise for member of the military – and over $180 million for the government’s new push to investigate and end sexual assault in the military.

But it also restricts funding for government conferences and the Affordable Care Act’s Independent Payment Advisory Board and Public Health Fund.

The bill includes no new funding for Yucca Mountain’s use as a nuclear waste repository.

Several policy riders became points of contention on the bill between the parties. For example, Democrats lost an argument over pro-union policies: The bill includes a prohibition on the National Labor Relations Board approving “card-check” voting procedures in unions. But Democrats prevented Republicans from including provisions rolling back regulations on greenhouse gas emissions.

The bill also prevents the U.S. Postal Service from ending Saturday mail delivery and shuttering any rural post offices for the duration of fiscal 2014 – a rule that may sit well with customers but will likely not ease the agency’s financial crisis.

The appropriations bill does not, however, resolve an ongoing standoff over how to replenish funding for unemployment insurance or how to restore a cut in the cost-of-living adjustment for veterans pensions – save for disabled and deceased veterans, whose personal and family benefit levels were fully restored.

“Today’s bill is not perfect, but it is a necessary and important step forward,” Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., said in a statement. “I’m especially pleased this legislation will increase investment in infrastructure and expand funding for critical programs such as Early Head Start, Title I and the federal Pell Grant program.”

“There are items not included in this omnibus legislation that require additional attention,” said Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev. “On balance, however, this bill will fund programs for our social safety net that many rely on.”

“I supported the omnibus spending bill because it takes an important first step in correcting the injustice that was done to our retired servicemen and women in the Bipartisan Budget Agreement,” Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., said, citing the unresolved issue over veterans benefits. “I know we still have a great deal of work to do but this bill is a step in the right direction.”

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