Amodei seeks 4th term in Congress
LVN Editor Emeritus
Congressman Mark Amodei, who represents the second Congressional District, is seeking his fourth term to the office.
Amodei, who grew up in Carson City, entered the House of Representatives in 2011 after a special election when former Congressman Dean Heller was appointed to the vacant U.S. Senate seat held by John Ensign, who resigned because of scandal.
Amodei spoke with the Lahontan Valley News regarding his race for CD2. Like his opponent Clint Koble, a Democrat from Reno, he talked about his positions, not personalities. Amodei said running for office is like applying for a job or keeping a job: talk the issues, treat voters with respect and treat your opponent with respect.
Amodei said tariffs have been on Nevadans’ minds. Two months ago, Amodei said a member of the Canadian consulate from Los Angeles, who represents interests in Arizona, Nevada and Southern California, visited him at his Washington, D.C., office. She told him the No. 1 export to Canada from her region was agriculture such as milk, beef and pork.
Amodei said as of late, it appears a renegotiation or resolution with Canada in the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) may be as close as it is with Mexico. Amodei said tariffs placed on the agriculture industry, which includes the dairy industry in Nevada, also concern him.
Amodei pledged during the summer to co-sponsor legislation to stop damaging trade sanctions against newsprint, which had been introduced in the U.S. House by a bipartisan coalition. The PRINT Act would suspend tariffs being collected on Canadian paper until the Department of Commerce completed a study on the capability of the U.S. newspaper industry to absorb the tariffs.
The International Trade Commission dismissed the tariffs in September.
Amodei said if negotiations start to drag past Thanksgiving or Christmas, he will be concerned. He also said when the Trump administration came on board, U.S. steel cost three times more than steel produced and shipped to other countries by China. He said part of the strategy on assessing tariffs on Chinese goods — including steel — is to affect China’s economy on trade and to see which country blinks first.
“The market will react and readjust for that commodity (steel),” Amodei said.
Even with the tariffs, Amodei said Chinese-made steel is still cheaper than American steel.
Part of China’s strategy was outlined by TradingSim.com: “China pumping out steel, solar panels among other goods more than what was needed in a bid to flood the markets, keeping its workers employed while hoping that the strategy would help China to maintain its growth rates.”
Amodei said the proposal by the Nevada Department of Transportation to extend the proposed Interstate 11 from Tonopah north to Schurz and then northwest to the Fernley area is not what he had envisioned.
He said the purpose of the corridor was to add another north-south interstate from Mexico to Canada like Interstate 5 to the west or Interstate 15 to the east in Arizona, Utah and Idaho. He said any proposed corridor along the Utah border would have been too close to I-15, and anything going through Reno would be too close to I-5, which cuts through California, Oregon and Washington.
Amodei said he thought I-11 passing through or near Fallon would be the natural choice because the cost would be cheaper and obtaining right of way would be easier. He said officials in Churchill and Mineral counties need to talk, do land-use planning and figure out how a route can encompass both areas but use existing routes such as the Rawhide Mine road, for example. He said the route could run from the Trinity exit on Interstate 80 about 35 miles north of Fallon to Mineral County.
Amodei said some studies are including I-11 from Las Vegas to Tonopah and how routing would be accomplished through the Beatty area if Congress approved the funding for the Yucca Mountain repository. Amodei said he’s not in favor of the site being used as a nuclear landfill, but if Congress pushes to fund the site, then he said Nevada must be in a position get the best deal it can.
The Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act, which passed 340-72, in May, would officially mark Nevada’s Yucca Mountain as the nation’s nuclear waste repository, once and for all.
All four of Nevada’s congressional representatives voted against it.
Amodei and his staff were successful, however, to include provisions regarding reprocessing, oversight and legal authority review for cleaning up the radium contamination at a building on the University of Nevada, Reno’s campus in the Fiscal Year 2019 Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. His staff is currently working to include I-11 in other pieces of legislation.
Amodei said the federal government must refocus on the nation’s infrastructure and see where improvements are needed to include airports, mass transit, schools, water and fiber optics.
Amodei believes in Second Amendment rights; however, he said school violence is disturbing but other areas need to be examined such as where perpetrators obtain their information to use weapons in mass-shooting scenarios.
According to numerous websites, the two teenage Columbine killers who murdered 12 students and one teacher on April 20, 1999, had obtained information from the Internet to carry out their day of mayhem.
Amodei addressed the problem in a March 17 newsletter:
“The House listened to the American people by passing the STOP School Violence Act. This legislation is a multi-layered approach that will empower our academic institutions and law enforcement officials by giving them the tools they need to appropriately identify threats before it’s too late.
“This legislation passed with an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 407-10, sending a clear message to the general public that members in the House do not consider school safety to be an “us or them” issue and that we’re serious about taking action to keep our children safe.
“You might also remember that last December, the House passed H.R. 4477, the Fix NICS Act of 2017, a bill to improve the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) and provide administrative review of bump stocks.”
Amodei said the government should enforce the federal laws that are currently on the books and at the parts of the law that are broken. According to Amodei, the Brady Bill needs a tune-up on background checks. He said not only should existing law be enforced but also look to breakdowns in the system and how Congress can most effectively eliminate those breakdowns to strengthen the law in the areas it failed.
Furthermore, he said more focus must be given on the mentally disturbed and criminals who try to circumvent the background checks. He has said in the past the bump stock issue needs to be revisited.
Amodei said any movement to shift the majority of federal land to state control is an uphill battle.
“None of those bills will pass unless they’re bipartisan,” he said.
However, an Amodei-introduced bill that passed in bipartisan fashion. The Northern Nevada Land Conservation and Economic Development Act (H.R. 5205), requires the Bureau of Land Management to convey certain federal lands in Nevada to other government entities. Smaller bills relating to Nevada were included such as the Naval Air Station Fallon Housing and Safety Development Act and the Fernley Economic Self-Determination Act.
Amodei said the county-land bill process has been the most successful.
Navy expansion may be an issue facing the next session of Congress. Amodei said the range modernization plan for Naval Air Station Fallon is ongoing, and Amodei said the Navy has been working closely with the city of Fallon and Churchill County.
“We’re ensuring everyone has a voice,” he said.
Amodei realizes technological advances require some type of expansion, yet, the congressman said he doesn’t want Navy jets flying over civilian areas.
Since he became a congressman, Amodei has conducted three to four veterans’ town halls each year in different parts of his district. Amodei invites representatives from different agencies and staff from the two U.S. Senate offices to attend the sessions, which are full and sometimes standing room only.
“We triage the issues,” Amodei said.
Most questions deal with healthcare at Veterans Administration facilities.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke floated the idea of moving key federal offices to the West. While Amodei has not yet signed onto any legislation in the House to support relocating the headquarters of the BLM from Washington to a western state, he said he’s definitely glad members have begun looking into it. If legislation were brought up for a vote in the House, Amodei said he would give serious consideration to it considering federal lands compromise 85 percent of Nevada.
Amodei said he’s seen first-hand the positive economic and environmental impacts that come from strengthening local control over these lands.
Amodei is in favor of the federal government continuing to Pay In Lieu of Taxes Money for local government services for federal employees and their families.
“If the (federal) government doesn’t wasn’t to pay the bill, then give up the land,” Amodei said.