Indy DC Download: Out of legislative options, Nevada’s congressional Democrats say abortion, other rights now on the ballot

The Senate failed to advance legislation this week that would codify nationwide access to abortion following the leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion that showed the court poised to overturn the 1972 Roe v. Wade decision.

As expected, the bill failed 49 to 51, with all but one Democrat voting for the Women's Health Protection Act and no Republicans backing the measure. In September, the House passed a similar measure on a 218 to 211 vote.

With abortion access until 24 weeks of gestation guaranteed in Nevada, under a 1990 statewide referendum, congressional Democrats have also raised the specter of a potential federal ban should Republicans win control of Congress.

Economic concerns still top of mind

On Friday, the delegation announced the state would be receiving more than $48 million in grant funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to increase access to affordable housing. 

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), whose seat has been targeted by the GOP as a possible pickup, said she, too, hears about economic issues more than anything else.

“It is still this concern that we get our economy [growing], it's good-paying jobs, access to health care when you need it, it's lowering health care costs,” Cortez Masto said in an interview Friday.

Data privacy 


Democrats have also raised concerns about using cell phone data to enforce state abortion bans.

In an interview on CNN Wednesday, Cortez Masto said that the $10,000 reward for citizens who successfully sue to enforce the six-week abortion ban in Texas puts the nation in uncharted waters regarding data privacy and abortion rights.

“Everybody that has a phone can be tracked…and [that] can be used to determine where you are and if you are seeking health care or not,” Cortez Masto said. “I mean, it goes one step further, and these are things that we should be thinking about because if we already have bounty hunter laws in this country because of what Texas has done, and the Supreme Court refused to strike it down, we're going to get even further down the road here.”

Indian boarding schools

Of the nation's 408 federally backed Indian boarding schools, an initial Department of Interior (DOI) investigation report released Wednesday found marked or unmarked burial sites at 53 schools. Tens of thousands may have died systemwide, the report said.

According to the report, three schools were in Nevada. The report is part of a DOI initiative to explore and reveal the sinister history of the boarding school system, created to strip Native children from their families as part of a forced-assimilation policy.

The three schools are the Stewart Indian School in Carson City, the Pyramid Lake Boarding and Day School in Nixon and Western Shoshone Boarding School in Owyhee near the Idaho border.

According to the school's website, the Stewart school opened in 1890 and reported its first death in 1896. Now a museum, it housed children from more than 200 tribes, some beyond Nevada's borders, with students from Native communities in California, Arizona, Utah, Washington and Oregon. The first class at Stewart had 37 students in 1890 and by 1919, there were more than 400. The school closed in 1980. 

Gov. Steve Sisolak reiterated his apology to tribes in a statement Friday,

“Tribal citizens in Nevada lived the harsh realities of these boarding schools, which were designed to forcefully assimilate young Native Americans by kidnapping them off from their families and culture,” said Governor Sisolak. “I want to apologize for the role the State played with this abhorrent policy.” 

At a press conference Wednesday, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, the first Native person to lead the agency, released the report. She said many DOI workers with Native backgrounds worked on the project. 

That includes Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland, who leads the initiative.


Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV) introduced legislation to ban the General Services Administration (GSA) from leasing property to a current president, vice president, member of Congress or head of an executive agency. 

She helped oversee a congressional investigation of the lease awarded to the Trump Organization to turn the Old Post Office building in Washington into a Trump hotel. Titus, who leads a panel that oversees GSA, believes that President Donald Trump violated the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause by continuing to do business with the government as president. Trump’s company announced Wednesday that it finalized the sale of the hotel.  

Her bill would ensure that such an arrangement could not happen again.

Meanwhile, Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) organized a letter, signed by 23 other Democrats and Republicans, urging congressional leaders to include the SAFE Banking Act in supply chain improvement and microchip manufacturing legislation being finalized.

The SAFE Banking Act would provide marijuana businesses access to the banking system in states where it is legal, including Nevada. Current federal law restricts legally operating cannabis businesses from accessing basic banking services and products, resulting in businesses being forced to conduct transactions only in cash. 

The letter was also addressed to members of a conference committee tasked with squaring differences between House and Senate bills. In February, the House passed the America COMPETES Act, which includes SAFE Baking Act language. In July, the Senate passed the United States Innovation and Competition Act (USICA). Agreement on a final bill is not expected until the summer.


Legislation sponsored:

S.4206 – A bill to require the Administrator of the Small Business Administration to provide awards to recognize State and local governments that improve the process of forming a new business, and for other purposes.

Legislation co-sponsored:

S.4192 – A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to end the tax subsidy for employer efforts to influence their workers' exercise of their rights around labor organizations and engaging in collective action.

S.4181 – A bill to amend title VI of the Social Security Act to allow coronavirus State and local fiscal recovery funds to be used for low-income housing credit projects.


Legislation co-sponsored:

S.4119 – RECA Extension Act of 2022


Legislation sponsored:

H.R. 7714 – To amend title 40, United States Code, to establish requirements for outleasing certain Federal buildings, and for other purposes.

Legislation co-sponsored:

H.R. 7739 – To increase the supply of, and lower rents for, affordable housing and to assess calculations of area median income for purposes of Federal low-income housing assistance, and for other purposes.

H.R. 7709 – To authorize programs to provide college scholarships and educational support to women and girls who have escaped Afghanistan and come to the United States, and for other purposes.


Legislation sponsored:

H.R. 7748 – To amend the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act to award grants to States to develop, convene, or expand industry or sector partnerships, and for other purposes.