Every August, Congress goes out of session and Representatives head back to their respective districts. While people in the Beltway often refer to this time as “August recess,” for me and my staff, it is anything but a recess.
This month, I will drive thousands of miles across Nevada’s Second Congressional District for the chance to hear about the issues that matter most to everyone at home, and to tout what we have accomplished in the House of Representatives over the past eight months.
Since I won’t be able to hear and meet with everyone, I want to use this newsletter to provide more details on some of the issues I plan to cover in the district.
A PAY RAISE FOR SERVICE MEMBERS
Recently, with my support, the House of Representatives passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2024. For those of you unfamiliar with this bill, here is a little explanation.
The NDAA is an annual bill that lets Congress set the guidelines for defense policy. This year’s NDAA assists our service members by supporting a 5.2% increase in pay, the largest pay raise in 20 years. It will also provide housing benefits for service members, enhance support for military spouses, continue the ban on COVID-19 vaccine mandates, and strengthen healthcare services, including mental health support.
Additionally, the bill focuses heavily on preventing Chinese aggression by building a stronger and more capable missile defense, increasing funding for new technologies like AI and hypersonics to give us the advantage in any conflict, protecting U.S. military bases and other critical infrastructure from espionage, strengthening our security partnerships with Taiwan and other Pacific allies, and preventing the Biden Administration from reducing the size of the Navy.
Not long after the House passed our version of the NDAA, the Senate passed theirs. Like the House bill, the Senate’s package also authorizes a 5.2% increase in pay for service members as well as greater spending to counter the growing threat from China. However, there are a few sticking points between the two bills that will require lawmakers from both Chambers to come together and to negotiate a compromise that combines both NDAAs.
Even though there are provisions included in the House version of the bill that the Senate disagrees with, I am confident that both Chambers will come to a solid agreement. Stay tuned.
SOUTHERN BORDER UPDATE
Since President Biden took office, there have been over 5.6 million illegal crossings of our southern border, with approximately 1.6 million evading apprehension. While our porous southern border has always been an issue, President Biden’s open border policies have turned this crisis into a catastrophe.
In fact, so many illegal immigrants have been released that the New York City’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office is fully booked through October 2032 to process many of these cases. The situation in New York City is so bad that the Mayor is trying to house thousands of immigrants in the local school gymnasiums.
However, every state, including Nevada, is suffering from the impacts of Biden’s open border policies. To date, in FY23, Border Patrol agents have seized more than 22,000 pounds of fentanyl, surpassing the total amount seized in all of FY22. Fentanyl poisoning is the leading cause of death for Americans aged 18-45.
In response to this surge of illegal immigration, the House of Representatives passed the Secure the Border Act of 2023. From forcing the Biden Administration to restart construction of the border wall to increasing the number of Border Patrol agents – this commonsense legislation will restore sanity and security at the southern border.
And because schools are places for academics and athletics – not for housing illegal immigrants – the House of Representatives recently passed the Schools Not Shelters Act. Rather than placing further strain on our kids, families, and communities, it is time for the Biden Administration to do the responsible thing and secure our southern border. I urge the Senate to pass both pieces of legislation, and the President to sign them into law.
Recently, the idea of opening an impeachment inquiry into the allegations surrounding President Biden has been floated by several of my Republican colleagues. For those unfamiliar with these allegations, here is a breakdown.
Currently, the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability is investigating President Biden’s involvement in his family’s foreign business practices and international influence peddling schemes. We need to know about the President’s involvement in these shady business deals and whether these deals threaten national security and his decision-making as President.
So far, the House Oversight Committee has reviewed an unclassified FBI-generated FD-1023 record that details an alleged extortion and bribery scheme involving then-Vice President Joe Biden and a Burisma executive. Biden allegedly received $5 million for certain actions, but the Burisma executive states that he didn’t pay “the big guy” directly and instead transferred money to several bank accounts to hide the money.
Devon Archer, who served with Hunter Biden on the board of Burisma, recently testified that Hunter along with top Burisma Holdings executives “called D.C.” in 2015 to ask the Obama Administration to help fire Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin, who was investigating Burisma for corruption. At the time, then-Vice President Joe Biden was in charge of U.S.-Ukrainian policy for the Obama Administration. Shokin was eventually fired.
The Committee has uncovered evidence that Biden family members and their associates created over 20 shell companies and that millions of dollars from foreign companies and foreign nationals in China, Ukraine, and Romania were distributed to the Bidens through these shell companies. Nine members of the Biden family appear to have participated in or benefited from influence peddling schemes.
Meanwhile, the House Ways and Means Committee is investigating misconduct and preferential treatment in tax enforcement for the Bidens, after releasing the testimonies of two IRS whistleblowers who investigated Hunter Biden for evasion of taxes. Their testimony reveals that President Biden’s Department of Justice continually interfered with the investigation into Hunter Biden by delaying the investigation, divulging sensitive information about the investigation to Hunter Biden’s attorneys, and denying investigators the ability to follow evidence that implicated Joe Biden.
At this point in time, there isn’t necessarily a smoking gun, but we can smell the gunpowder. If these ongoing committee investigations provide strong evidence that President Biden committed a crime, then I am open to moving forward with an impeachment inquiry. And if the President’s alleged wrongdoings meet the definition of “high crimes and misdemeanors” outlined in the Constitution, then I will support impeachment.
While the evidence is growing, we need to avoid the impulse to open a premature impeachment inquiry without meeting these standards just because that’s what the Democrats did to President Trump. We will continue to respect the system in place and follow all the rules, unlike our Democrat counterparts.
Northern Nevada Lands Package
A few months back, I reintroduced my Northern Nevada Economic Development and Conservation Act, legislation that will allow for the conveyance of federal lands to Douglas County, Pershing County, Carson City, the City of Fernley, the City of Sparks, and the Incline Village General Improvement District for public purposes and economic development.
Nevada is unique in that it is 83% federal land – which is the largest percentage of federally-owned land in any state. This means that if you want to develop something, like a school site, you often need to pass a lands bill first. For example, last year, I successfully negotiated a lands bill to expand the Navy’s Fallon Range Training Complex (FRTC) by 558,000 acres to give our military the ability to train in a more realistic environment, while also conveying lands for development and public purposes to Churchill County, Lander County, and tribes close to the FRTC.
In addition to making thousands of acres of land available for development in the current Northern Nevada Economic Development and Conservation Act, this bill will designate approximately 150,000 acres of wilderness, all of which is supported by the counties of jurisdiction, and remove the possibility of oil and gas leasing in over 300,000 acres of the Ruby Mountains of Elko County.
I am proud that this lands package provides a balanced approach to addressing the economic and conservation needs in the area. Now that this legislation is introduced, it needs to pass both the House and Senate before it can be signed into law. I am confident that I can get this legislation passed through the House, and I am encouraging Nevada’s Senators to get it through the Senate.
Reversing Land Withdrawal in Railroad Valley
President Biden’s Department of the Interior recently withdrew 22,684 acres of Bureau of Land Management land in Railroad Valley in Nye County, Nevada from all forms of mineral development because the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) wanted exclusive control over the area.
This decision was frustrating – not just because NASA prevented local authorities from having a seat at the table when this decision was being made – but also because Railroad Valley is home to an abundance of critical minerals that can help boost the economy, strengthen domestic supply chains, and reduce our dependence on foreign adversaries.
This withdrawal is just another example of Biden Administration’s hypocrisy. Even though it is supposedly a goal of the Biden Administration to boost the development of renewable energy technology, this mineral withdrawal will prevent the development of the lithium necessary for their clean energy objectives before it could even go through the environmental review process.
Since this mineral withdrawal goes directly against America’s economic and national security needs, I recently introduced legislation that would reverse this misguided mineral withdrawal. Rather than continuing to rely on China for these resources, I would like to see Nevada’s miners safely produce these resources here at home under the strongest environmental and labor standards in the world.
Recently, I testified in a House Natural Resources Subcommittee hearing on this withdrawal. While my legislation to reverse this withdrawal has not been scheduled for a vote just yet, I will continue to press House leadership on its importance.
PLEASE STAY IN TOUCH
As always, thank you for subscribing to the Amodei Report. I look forward to continuing to keep you up to date on the issues you care about most. For additional information, please visit my website at Amodei.house.gov or call my Washington office: (202) 225-6155, Reno office: (775) 686-5760, or Elko phone: (775) 777-7705. To receive updates on what I am doing in Washington and in Nevada’s 2nd District follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
Mark E. Amodei
Member of Congress