With Congress on a two-week hiatus for representatives to meet with their constituents, Republican Congressman Mark Amodei spent Monday and Tuesday in the Lahontan Valley capped with remarks and a question and answer session in Fernley.
Amodei, who represents Congressional District 2, spent most of his time in Fallon and Fernley meeting with businessmen and several officials. He wrapped up the whirlwind tour as a guest of the Fernley Republican Women at their monthly meeting on Tuesday night.
Amodei, who has been in the House of Representatives since 2011 when he replaced Dean Heller in a special election, said Congress can be a frustrating place. Because of the nominating conventions in the summer, the campaigns for the general election in November and the holidays in late November and December, he said Congress might spend no more than 30 days in session from July 15 to the rest of the year.
“When you hear the stories of Congress doing this or not doing this, now you know why,” Amodei said.
He said Congress will probably take action on most items before mid-July.
Amodei covered many topics during his 40-minute presentation. He said newly chosen House speaker Paul Ryan is a better communicator than retired speaker John Boener, who left the House at the end of October.
The Carson City native said he was also frustrated with the $1 trillion Omnibus Appropriations Bill, which was passed in late November and added more money to the deficit. Amodei said he was disappointed that most issues dealing with the western states were omitted and ultimately expressed his displeasure with Ryan.
“The Omnibus Bill showed where the folks are,” he said of his colleagues in both the House and Senate.
Since he first arrived in Washington, D.C. in September 2011, Amodei said there had been reduction in discretionary spending and the annual deficit was decreasing.
“The Omnibus raised discretionary spending by $160 billion,” said Amodei, one of 95 representatives who voted against the bill.
Amodei also questioned the sincerity of the bill’s language and if the information provided in the bill was misleading or factual.
“Just tell me what the facts are,” Amodei told the Fernley audience with his outreached arms.
Amodei, who served in the U.S. Army in the 1980s, said the House originally approved a 2.5 percent pay increase for the military, but the leadership cut that amount in half to 1.2 percent.
The Fernley crowd at the FRW meeting definitely had current events on their mind.
When asked about Social Security, Amodei said he would like to see changes so that the retirement program can survive.
“People are living longer and drawing more out of it,” he said. “Social Security is an easy fix. It has a cash flow that we all pay into.”
Others said they were upset with the United States’ nuclear deal with Iran and how the Revolutionary Guard detained 10 Navy sailors who supposedly strayed into Iranian territorial waters in the Persian Gulf.
Amodei said the political reality from Iran to the U.S. is “What are you going to do to me now?” He said the incident has been a little embarrassing to the Obama Administration.
Amodei, though, wondered why the two vessels were so close to Iran’s maritime border.
Veterans’ issues surfaced. Amodei said the local Veterans Administration is doing a better job in Reno dealing with cases, but he added while some veterans feel they are receiving good treatment, others do not feel the same.
Amodei said he visits the Reno VA Hospital at least once a quarter, but he urges veterans that if they have issues, to call his Reno office.
“They need to give us a chance locally,” he said. “There is always more work to be done.”
Since he has been a member of the House, Amodei said it is unthinkable that many VA administrators don’t seem to care.
“The part that bothers me is that 75 percent of those in charge at the national level are veterans,” he pointed out.
Amodei said the government must run the VA better because the number of veterans is increasing. Amodei said he has made it a point to conduct veteran town hall meetings in CD2 to hear of his constituents’ concerns.
Other attendees at Tuesday’s meeting asked Amodei how far can President Barack Obama push his executive orders.
“As far as he wants,” Amodei said. “This Congress has let him go that far.”
Amodei said the House leadership must defund or not approve additional money for items the president wants through executive orders. While the conversation drifted to the Second Amendment and gun rights, Amodei took House Minority Speaker Nancy Pelosi to task for not doing anything to recognize Kate Steinle, a Bay area woman who was fatally shot on July 1 in San Francisco. Furthermore, Obama did not recognize Steinle in his recent State of the Union speech.
“Kate Steinle was the same age (32) as my oldest daughter,” Amodei said. “She gets shot by an illegal immigrant in a sanctuary city.”
Amodei said he was incensed by the “in your face, double-talk” on gun violence from the Democrats because of most of the ideas being proposed by the other party lack substance.
Amodei said connecting the dots on how to restrict guns may not stop gun violence as evidenced by two Paris shootings and gun violence in the nation’s capital and Chicago.