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CONNECT TO CONGRESS: Titus looks past primary, gives Democrats a message

Dina Titus.PNG

One candidate for Governor calls his opponent a money-grubbing career politician. The other candidate for Governor calls her opponent a fake Democrat.

Just another day in the Democratic primary, and watching it from Washington, Nevada’s senior Democrat at the US Capitol has a message.

“I think it will be imperative that after this primary, and it’s been a hard-fought one, you’re right about that, that some of us get together, bring the party back together and try to move forward,” says Congresswoman Dina Titus, D-Nevada.

Since the end of last year, she’s been backing Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak over his opponent, fellow Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani. Titus, along with former US Senator Harry Reid, even cut commercials supporting Sisolak.

“Well, I’ve known both of them for a long time and worked with both of ‘em, and I think Steve has better qualities to be Governor,” Titus says.

For her, the Democratic donnybrook must not miss the larger picture. “Well, my main goal is to beat Laxalt for Governor,” Titus told me, referring to Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt, who is the favorite to emerge from his own Republican primary and faceoff against the Democratic winner in November.

Giunchigliani has been portraying herself as the true Democrat, the true progressive in the race. Not so, says Titus.

“He’s there on a lot of issues that I care about, like choice and doing away with ‘bump stocks’ (the accessory that allowed the October 1st shooter to fire rapidly) and protecting public lands,” Titus says. “If I didn’t believe he was a progressive, I wouldn’t be supporting him.”

Titus talked to me from Washington as part of our regular dialogue with our DC delegation called “Connect to Congress.”

Congress is back in session, returning from its Memorial Day recess. This week, the House is expected to take up an energy bill that includes $267 million to restart licensing for Yucca Mountain, the mothballed nuclear waste dump 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas. Nevada’s been fighting it for decades, although under the Trump administration Yucca Mountain has been finding bipartisan support.

Titus, along with Rep. Ruben Kihuen, D-Nevada, has co-sponsored a measure to strip the Yucca funding from the latest bill.

“We probably will not get it out of the House bill,” Titus tells me, saying the measure will have to find some sort of compromise with the US Senate, whose own bill does not include the Yucca funding. Titus hopes after the midterm election Congress takes another look at consent-based siting, sending the spent nuclear fuel to places that will welcome it.

“Most of the Democratic members of the House who voted for the bill don’t really support Yucca Mountain but they want some interim storage, so let’s get interim storage – New Mexico, Texas both said they want it, put it there and work on a consent-based permanent storage bill,” Titus says.

There’s also a move to bring a bill to the floor of the House that would protect the young immigrants brought here as children by their parents, the so-called “Dreamers.” Republican leadership has resisted, but a coalition of Republicans and Democrats are trying to get enough signatures on a petition that would force a measure to be brought for a vote.

“I hope that before the election that this will pass,” Titus tells me. “We’ll get something reasonable and then it will be a fight in the Senate because (Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch) McConnell’s not wanting to take this up with his members up for election.”

Titus is one of the co-sponsors of a measure that would allow marijuana dispensaries to use the banking system. They currently can’t, because under federal law marijuana is still considered an illegal drug.

“Co-sponsors of that legislation are now bipartisan. I think at least after the next election you’ll see that move forward,” Titus says.

Like much of Nevada, she’s watching the Golden Knights pull off an improbable run for hockey’s biggest prize. The T-Mobile is in her district.

“It’s a new dynamic where we’re moving into sports, and it happened at a time when we really needed something to get excited about,” she told me.

“I’ve got a cutout of Elvis Presley outside my door so people (at the US Capitol) can find my office. Right now, he’s wearing a big pennant that says ‘Go Golden Knights,” Titus said.



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