Life has been busier for Rep. Dina Titus since she and fellow Democrats took control of the House in January.
Titus, whose District 1 covers central Las Vegas, has helped pass ethics and election reforms and plans to address legislation allowing the cannabis industry to access the federal banking system.
“I can tell you it’s a lot more fun being in the majority than the minority,” Titus told State of Nevada, “When you’re in the minority, you have to pick your battles and you have to work harder to get things done and I like to think I was able to accomplish that.”
Now that the Democrats are in the majority it means they hold the gavel in committees.
“We’re doing a lot of the oversight and investigation that the Republicans when they were in charge were reluctant to do, against their own president,” she said.
Titus will also lead one of the House oversight investigations of President Donald Trump.
She heads a subcommittee of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee that will be looking into Trump’s real estate holdings, including his conversion of a Washington post office facility into one of his hotels.
The congresswoman said she wants to explore whether Trump is violating the constitution’s emoluments clause, which prohibits a president from receiving financial benefits from other nations. Foreign dignitaries frequently stay at the hotel.
“We’ve hired some investigative staff; we’re doing our homework,” said Titus, who added she expects hearings this summer, “We believe he is in violation of it, but we want to get all the facts.”
Besides her subcommittee's investigation, Titus is also heavily involved in a battle with the Department of Energy over its decision to ship weapons-grade plutonium to Nevada without the state's knowledge.
“You really can’t trust the DOE when it comes to nuclear matters,” she said.
Titus said there may have been a mention of the shipment in one of the department's reports but no details.
“What was so bad is that we had filed a lawsuit to keep them from doing it," she said, "They were negotiating in the lawsuit. All the while, it was already here.”
Titus is not just concerned about the plutonium that is already here, which Energy Secretary Rick Perry has said will be removed - but he hasn't said when or how much will go - she is also worried about more plutonium that could be headed to the state.
“We can’t stop what is already here, but we need to work to prevent that from coming,” she said.
With the secret shipment of plutonium and President Trump's budget, which includes money to restart licensing of Yucca Mountain, Titus wonders about the administration's thoughts on Nevada.
“It does make you wonder," she said, "They want to ship all the commercial waste to Yucca Mountain. They’re sending this plutonium here. They hide behind the veil of national security. It is very hard to negotiate with them.”
As far as the decades-long fight over Yucca Mountain goes, Titus said the first thing the state needs to do is have the money in the president's budget removed.
The second thing is to find an alternative. She suggests using consent-based decision making for the waste repository, which is supposed to be built 90 miles west of Las Vegas.
“Try to get people to relook at the location of the site based on the blue-ribbon commission’s report and the recent report that came out of Stanford, saying, ‘Put it where people want it. Put it where people can benefit from it. We don’t use it. We don’t want it. We shouldn’t have to store it,” she said.
Dina Titus, Democratic congresswoman
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