U.S. Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., on Thursday made clear he has many of the same concerns about how dysfunctional Congress is as former Democratic Sens. Harry Reid and John Kerry.
They told an audience at University of Nevada, Reno on Tuesday partisan battles have rendered Congress unable to serve the American people because compromise is seen as a dirty word. They urged the nation to “reclaim our own democracy” from those who refuse to deal with anyone who doesn’t agree completely with them.
“There are days when I feel we’ve totally abandoned dealing with issues in favor of trying to beat up your opponent because of the letter in front of their name,” Amodei said in an interview following a Chamber of Commerce Breakfast at Silver Oak. “Disagreement is becoming more and more about what your party is instead of what your issue is.”
He charged those contentious issues shouldn’t be partisan.
“I don’t see the BLM or federal lands as partisan issues,” he said.
He said the same is true of immigration because, in today’s world, “you need to know who is coming and going from your country.”
He also rejected the suggestion he should’ve voted against the Omnibus budget bill saying, “I’m not shutting the Pentagon down.”
But he said the way Senate leadership treats the budget essentially disenfranchises about 500 of the 535 members of Congress.
“Bringing out a budget bill from behind closed doors at the last minute is incredibly disrespectful to the process and incredibly disrespectful to the members,” he said.
In the House, he pointed out the budget is built in public hearings before 12 subject-area committees. But he said Senate leadership — in both parties — has done things behind closed doors to shield members from having to make tough votes in committee.
“There are some days when you’ve got to have tough votes,” he said.
Amodei said Congress needs to work together on all the issues from border security, school safety and health care to taxes and infrastructure.
He said policies and issues, not party, should drive the debate.
“Tell me what the facts are,” he said. “Tell me what the problems are.”
At the breakfast U.S. Chamber of Commerce representatives also presented Amodei with its Spirit of Enterprise Award. The award recipients voted with business at least 70 percent of the time last year on critical issues such as tax reform.
Also receiving the award were Sen. Dean Heller and Rep. Jacky Rosen.