Rep. Amodei not optimistic on budget or deficit deal, but sees chance for lands bills in congress this year

By Sean Whaley, Nevada News Bureau: Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., said today he is not optimistic that Congress will make any substantive progress on a balanced budget or deficit reduction this year given the focus on the presidential election.

But Amodei, in town on a brief recess, said he is hopeful that progress can be made on Nevada-related public lands bills he is sponsoring as a member of the House Natural Resources Committee.

The U.S. Senate has gone over 1,000 days without a budget, he said in a brief interview after speaking to the Carson City Area Chamber of Commerce.

“So you ask yourself what will change in the next six months on that side?” he asked. “If history is any indicator probably nothing. Will the House vote on a budget? Yup. So, I don’t know. Being optimistic is probably not something you should be, for the budget.”

Amodei said he is very optimistic about moving his lands bills within the next several months, however.

“We’ve got some good stuff in the hopper that should move, so that’s the way I’m going to approach it,” he said.

One of the measures is the Yerington Land Conveyance and Sustainable Development Act, which is jointly being sponsored by Amodei, Rep. Shelley Berkeley, D-Nev., and Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev.

The bill would convey approximately 10,000 acres of land administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to the City of Yerington for commercial, industrial, recreational and cultural development. The city and Lyon County are seeking to leverage the substantial infrastructure investments being made by Nevada Copper at its nearby Pumpkin Hollow project.

The Pumpkin Hollow project is a new copper mine being developed by Nevada Copper. A ground-breaking ceremony for construction of the mine was held this past weekend.

Amodei is also pursuing a measure along with the rest of the Nevada delegation to create the Pine Forest Range Wilderness Area north of Winnemucca. The proposal has been endorsed by Humboldt County officials and other stakeholders.

He also plans to introduce legislation making it easier to dispose of small pieces of federal land that are adjacent to urban areas to help in economic development.

Amodei said he is grateful for Republican leadership and Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn., for making room for his appointment to the Natural Resources Committee. Fleischmann stepped down from the committee so Amodei could serve.

Members of the chamber asked about local issues, including the completion of the V&T Railroad and the Carson City bypass, which remains unfinished.

Amodei said there are no more earmarks for such projects, but that a Transportation Bill is being prepared that could potentially provide assistance for the bypass. Supporters of such projects need to identify the opportunities in the federal budget process to pursue funding, he said.

Amodei has been in Congress for just over five months, having been elected to the 2nd Congressional District in a special election in September 2011. Amodei replaced Dean Heller, R-Nev., who was appointed by Gov. Brian Sandoval to fill the vacancy in the Senate created with the resignation of John Ensign.

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Audio clips:

Rep. Mark Amodei says he is not optimistic about efforts to balance the federal budget this year because of the election:

022212Amodei1 :25 for the budget.”

Amodei says he is hopeful for progress on his lands bills, however:

022212Amodei2 :18 to approach it.”

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