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Amodei Sets His Sights On Two More Years

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(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

In this Aug. 24, 2015, file photo, Rep. Mark Amodei, R-NV., speaks at the 19th Annual Lake Tahoe Summit in South Lake Tahoe, Nevada.

Republican Congressman Mark Amodei has represented Northern Nevada in the House of Representatives for almost a decade. Since it was created, his district has never elected a Democrat for Congress.

This year he’s running against Democrat challenger Patricia Ackerman, a businesswoman from Minden.

Amodei has drawn criticism from Democrats for his support of President Donald Trump's agenda. But he met with Republican backlash earlier this year when he declined to dismiss impeachment hearings before they began.

With the national election being cast as a referendum on the Trump presidency, national trends could factor strongly in this traditional GOP stronghold. 

Will Amodei hold onto his seat? Or do tumultuous national politics change the map?

DISCUSSION HIGHLIGHTS:

On the pandemic and a congressional relief bill:

You can never say ‘mission accomplished’ in a situation like this. So, will there be more relief legislation? Yes.

The sad thing is both sides have decided there might be political gain in having something as a ‘second wave’ – if you will -  as opposed to not having something and hoping that the misery index influences the election, which it probably will.

Support comes from

The sad thing is neither one of them are related to sound policy.

How you’re seen in Congress?

I’m a member of a group that is called the Problem-Solvers Caucus, equal number of Democrats, equal number of Republicans – focus on the facts, focus on the issue, come up with solutions.

We did a bill, which was called a non-starter by the leadership in the House and a good start by the administration. Where do we go from here? We’re going nowhere until after the election.

It’s just shameful. It’s not public service. It’s not responsible. The political consultants have taken over. They’re making more money than you or I could imagine. It’s awful advice but yet the negative seems to be the rule of the day.

On President Trump’s campaign events in the pandemic:

Clearly, the president thinks that his strength is those types of rallies and so he stuck with that to the largest extent possible other than convalescence from his own bout with COVID.

[Former] Vice President Biden has stuck with the electronic messaging. Although, he’s out on the trail now too.

Especially, in a presidential election like this, even breathing becomes political, but I don’t think it’s news that each side thinks it has strengths. They’re going to use those to wrap up the last lap of this campaign.

On concerns about violence after the election:

I’m not right now because we need to see what actually happens in the election.

If [President Trump] wins, he’s not going to ask for a recount. If he doesn’t win, then let’s look at things like: How close is it? How close isn’t it?

I think it will boil down to what are individuals states doing. I think Nevada will do a good job of running the election and that includes Clark and Washoe Counties.

I have confidence in the vote unless someone tells me I shouldn’t and has some facts to actually back it up.

Once again, it’s an election year and everybody is micro-scoping everything. Let’s see what the election polls tell us on Election Day and then we’ll go from there to see what that leaves you with or doesn’t.

On mail-in ballots:

I think it’s interesting that 90 days before a presidential election we called a special session of the Legislature, which the history in Nevada is always is its always budget stuff and the first thing that comes out is AB4 [The law that required mail-in ballots sent to all active registered voters].

You’re inviting some scrutiny there when you say, ‘We’ve never done this before but here we go.’ Fair enough, we’ve got an unusual situation here. As long as the safeguards are in there. I’m a mail-in voter. Although, I walked it down to the Carson City Clerk’s office a couple of days ago.

From my experience, as a voter going through the system, I’m okay with it. Let’s just make sure we understand what’s going on. Make sure the rules are adhered to, and then, let’s count the votes.

On what rural voters are saying about President Trump:

It seems like he’s got some strong support. He won Congressional District 2 four years ago. I don’t know what the number was – seven or eight points – if I’m wrong it was 11 or 12.

When you talk to people in Elko County and Humboldt County, which is Winnemucca, Churchill County… it seems like Groundhog’s Day there. He enjoys very strong support.

We’ll see what election day brings.

On how he feels about the President:

If it’s a personality contest and it’s like, ‘Hey, is Donald Trump a teddy bear?’ – No, he’s not.

If Vice President Biden is successful in making it a personality contest, then he’s going to do well.

But if you look at what’s been done in terms of trade and jobs and even the COVID response, we’re seven months down the road. But there is $14 billion that Nevada has received that it doesn’t have to pay back.

We’ve spent more money in this country than the rest of the planet combined on a vaccine. There’s 22 million doses on the shelf of a couple of those vaccines that are almost through their Phase Three trials.

I think when you look at: Has he done a good job? Has he stuck with what he said he would do? He’s done a pretty good job.

What has been accomplished by Senate, except approving judges?

I don’t think the United States Senate cares who is in the majority in the House of Representatives. We’ve sent a lot of legislation over there, while I was in the majority and while I’m in the minority that has never received a hearing.

If Harry [Reid] says they haven’t done much, well – even nothing takes a long time to happen over there.

Does Congress need to act on climate change?

I’m a member of the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus, which wants to get rid of more carbon. The answer is somewhere in the middle. Do I think there’s climate change going on? Yes, I do. Is there science that we can go to say: What are the causes? How much of it is cyclical? How much are we exacerbating? When you know that, it’s like: So, what should we do to take care of that?

When you talk about the smoke [from California wildfires], I come from a family where my dad, God rest his soul, was a deputy state forester for Nevada for fire control.

The reality is in a lot of our forests in the West we got a ton of stuff laying on the ground and until you start doing that yard work – if you will – in the old days you had a lot of frequent low-intensity fires, which did that for you ironically enough before man started putting them out and letting that build up.

The solution is not that difficult, but once again, if all you’re going to focus on is the politics for instant gratification, then guess what, that usually doesn’t create great policy.

What are rural constituents most concerned about?

It’s a combination of things. We’re in a pandemic right now. There’s economic concerns. Some industries are doing well. Some are struggling. If you’re in the restaurant business right now, it’s a struggle and a lot of those folks aren’t going to be back.

The health care thing is another one where you just kind of sit there and shake your head and say, ‘seriously? Who would realistically campaign on saying, ‘Hey vote for me, I don’t care whether you have health insurance,’ especially when you’re a 62-year-old guy like me?

There are some good things in the Affordable Care Act. If you look at the bills that have been out there, there is nobody – Republican or Democrat – that says, ‘We ought to be able to discriminate on pre-existing conditions.’  

Someone asked me once why we’re focused on health care, because from prenatal to death it affects everyone, more than taxes, more than everything.

Obviously, it is a huge thing that cuts across all age groups, all demographics. That’s why it's such tempting fodder for the consultants to try to create fear and make you vote one way or the other, when the things that are being used as the most fearful – really? Nobody is in favor of pre-existing discrimination.

When you need health care, you need health care. The challenge is: How do we get care for those 11-ish percent in Nevada that are still not in some sort of program.

I’ll tell you this, this is the Medicare-for-all thing, over half the people in Nevada have employer-provided health care. And I haven’t had a single call from any of those people saying, ‘Please take me off my employer-provided plan and put me on Medicare-for-all.’

That’s been done with the repeal of the individual mandate, which was basically going to fund the one-size-fits-all, single-payer provider for health care, which was one of the main objectives of the Affordable Care Act. That’s already been done.

The challenge is: How do you take care of those folks that need safety nets for health care, other than sending them to the emergency room. That’s where the issue is, as opposed to, somebody is basically trying to get rid of your health care.

Guests

Rep. Mark Amodei, R-NV

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