Veteran’s Affairs will close some Nevada clinics

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Rep. Susie Lee (D-NV)Friday criticized a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) report recommending the closure of clinics in Laughlin, Winnemucca and Susanville, California, close to the Nevada border. 

In letters to Biden, they argued that while new facilities are proposed for Sparks and Carson City, closing the Winnemucca clinic would force veterans in that community to travel 150 miles for care.  They said closing the Susanville facility, which only serves about 1,100 veterans in California and Nevada, would make it harder for those veterans to find care when there is already a shortage of rural doctors and nurses in Nevada. 

They also called for finding a place for a new clinic in Laughlin. The VA has proposed building the replacement in Bullhead City, Arizona, across the Colorado River from Laughlin. The VA also said that telehealth options remain for rural veterans, but the senators said internet service is unreliable in rural areas.

“With this in mind, we strongly urge you to closely review the VA’s findings and not move forward with closures that could prevent Nevada’s most vulnerable veterans from accessing the VA health care and services they deserve,” the senators’ letter said. 

Free trade status

The House revoked favorable free trade status from Russia and Belarus after hearing an impassioned plea from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for more military aid for his nation’s fight against Russia’s invasion.

Nevada lawmakers left Zelenskyy's virtual speech to Congress Wednesday impressed by the Ukrainian president and eager to provide aid for the Ukrainian cause. 

Zelenskyy “comes off as the blue-collar, resilient leader,” Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV) said in an interview Friday. “His stock went off the charts after that speech.” 

Amodei didn’t mince words, saying that Russia has committed war crimes. He also framed the White House’s response as reactive rather than proactive. Amodei said the U.S. response could lead Ukrainians, who have fought bravely, to question the U.S.’s commitment to stand up against tyranny.

“What we’re doing now and the speed at which we're doing it leads to a ton of worry that when it comes right down to it, the United States is going to turn its back on Russian war crimes and appropriating a neighboring country,” Amodei said.

He also said the administration and its allies should consider a limited no-fly zone over part of Ukraine. The White House has been reluctant to enact a no-fly area over Ukraine due to concerns that it could directly pit American fighters against Russian aircraft and drag the U.S. into a war with Russia.

"There are ways to tailor it," Amodei said of no-fly zones to protect civilians or strategic areas. “Come up with something because right now it’s just a global ‘no.’” 

Following the speech, President Joe Biden announced that the U.S. would provide $800 million in military aid, including new drones and advanced anti-aircraft missiles.

In an interview Wednesday, Cortez Masto said the speech underscored her belief that the U.S. must continue to provide Ukraine with lethal and humanitarian assistance. 

Trade restrictions

The House approved legislation withdrawing permanent normal trade relations called PNTR  from Russia and Belarus on an overwhelming 424 to 8 vote. All members of Nevada's House delegation voted for the measure.

PNTR gives Russian and Belarus tariff-free access to the U.S. economy and vice versa. The bill would provide Biden authority to increase tariffs on products of Russia and Belarus until Jan. 2024.

The measure also gives Biden the authority to restore normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus if the countries end their aggression and other specific conditions are met. Congress may overrule Biden's decision through a congressional disapproval process.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said he expects the bill to pass with bipartisan support in the Senate when he brings it up as soon as next week.

Other action could also be taken. Lee called for the passage of legislation that would make it harder for Russia to sell its gold reserves. The bill, introduced in the House and Senate, would impose secondary sanctions on any American entities that knowingly transact with or transport gold from Russia's central bank holdings. It would also penalize American entities that sell gold physically or electronically in Russia.

Federal court 


Rosen gave a speech Thursday on the Senate floor calling for confirmation of Clark County-based District Court Judge Cristina Silva and UNLV law professor Anne Traum to join the U.S. District Court in Nevada. 

Rosen praised their qualifications, noting that Silva oversaw all criminal investigations and prosecutions in the Nevada U.S. Attorney's office between 2011 and 2019, including assisting in the Oct. 1, 2017, shooting investigation, and Traum was a former federal public defender before entering academia.

The full Senate advanced both nominations Wednesday. A final vote is expected next week.

Police funding

Cortez Masto introduced legislation with Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) to provide $250 million over the next five years for small law enforcement agencies — defined as those with fewer than 200 officers — across the country.

“Over 90 percent of all police departments nationally have fewer than 200 full-time officers,” Cortez Masto said in a release. “In Nevada and across the country, these small departments often struggle to compete with larger ones for access to critical resources.”

The bill's introduction comes as the midterms are beginning to loom large over Congress. The bill could be used to deflect Republican criticism that all Democrats back the "defund the police" mantra invoked by the progressive wing of the party. 

Cortez Masto, who only won her seat by about 2 points in 2016, is a target for the GOP and her race is expected to be one of the more highly contested of the cycle.


Legislation sponsored:

S.3860 – A bill to establish a grant program to provide assistance to local governments with fewer than 200 law enforcement officers, and for other purposes.

Legislation co-sponsored:

S.3867 – A bill to impose sanctions with respect to the use of cryptocurrency to facilitate transactions by Russian persons subject to sanctions, and for other purposes.

S.3846 – A bill to reauthorize the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program, and for other purposes.

S.3839 – A bill to clarify that the Federal Trade Commission Act prohibits excessive and unjustified price increases in the sale of certain products and services when an emergency or disaster results in abnormal disruptions of the market, and for other purposes.


Legislation sponsored:

S.3863 – A bill to require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to obtain an independent cybersecurity assessment of information systems of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.


Legislation co-sponsored:

H.R. 7099 – To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to establish a windfall profits excise tax on crude oil and to rebate the tax collected back to individual taxpayers, and for other purposes.


Legislation co-sponsored:

H.R. 7099 – To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to establish a windfall profits excise tax on crude oil and to rebate the tax collected back to individual taxpayers, and for other purposes.