Where Nevada’s Congressional Delegation stands on halting Syrian refugees

Updated 11/20 with full Titus statement

The U.S. House voted today to approve a Republican-backed bill that would effectively suspend the number of Syrian and Iraqi refugees admitted into the country until a more stringent screening process is put in place, despite the threat of a presidential veto. Nevada’s House congressional delegation fell along mainly party lines during the vote on H.R. 4038, which passed on a 289-137 vote. Here’s what each of Nevada’s congressional members had to say about the bill, and the issue of continuing to admit Syrian refugees into the county after the recent terrorist attacks in Paris that killed 129 people.

Dina Titus (NV-01): NO

Titus’s office has yet to release a statement on her vote against the bill, but said the following on the House floor after the bill passed.

Here’s that statement in full:

“Rather than working on real solutions to defeat ISIS and confront terrorism, the Republican Leadership rushed a bill to the floor that turns the back of Lady Liberty on families fleeing unspeakable violence and atrocities.”

“While I will continue to work with my colleagues and the Administration on ways to improve the vetting process for refugees from around the world, I cannot support politically motivated legislation that sends the wrong message to our allies, misdirects critical resources, and abandons our proud tradition of being a safe harbor for the most vulnerable in search of better lives.”

Mark Amodei (NV-02): YES

Amodei signed onto a letter with 109 Republican House colleagues signaling his support for the bill, and released the following statement:

“Americans are compassionate people, but it is not unreasonable to ask the Administration to take measures to ensure our compassion is not exploited. Protecting Americans is paramount and this is an obvious vulnerability. It is not xenophobic to say so and I resent the implication.

“With all due respect, when the President has regularly downplayed the threat of ISIS and Al Qaeda, only to be proven wrong time and again, what has he done to warrant the benefit of the doubt? Congress has the obligation to provide oversight and halt these plans until the necessary security precautions are in place.

“While it is not my preference to engage in political wordsmithing, frankly, given his comments over the past few days, it seems the President reserves greater disdain for his political opponents than he does those responsible for the deaths of thousands at home and abroad, the atrocities in Paris, beheadings, burnings, and the enslavement of women and minors. To suggest that Members of Congress and other American citizens who express concern over a legitimate threat are somehow a recruiting tool for ISIS is disgusting and about the least Presidential thing I’ve seen out of an already disappointing, JV Administration.”

Joe Heck (NV-03): YES

Like Amodei, Heck joined the group of Republicans urging President Obama to halt refugee admission into the U.S. He released this statement yesterday:

“Our first responsibility must be to protecting Americans,” Rep. Heck said. “The Islamic State has declared war on the west and settling thousands of new refugees who cannot be properly vetted only increases the chances of a Paris-style attack in the United States. The President may be satisfied with his strategy against ISIL, but it clearly is not working. It’s time for a strategy shift in the war against the Islamic State. I will be working with my colleagues on the Armed Services Committee and Select Committee on Intelligence to ensure we bring to bear the full capabilities of the armed forces and our intelligence community in the fight against ISIL.” 

Heck also published this statement on Facebook today:

I voted YES on H.R. 4038, the American Security Against Foreign Enemies (SAFE) Act of 2015 because it adds needed layers…

Posted by Rep Joe Heck on Thursday, November 19, 2015

Cresent Hardy (NV-04): YES

In a statement published today, Hardy echoed his Republican colleagues in calling for extra precautions before allowing additional Syrian refugees into the U.S.

“My heart breaks for the Syrian people, but we cannot let compassion expose us to the ill will of ill men. In light of last week’s events in Paris, our first priority needs to be the safety of the American people. There are those who would take advantage of America’s generosity if we let them.

“ISIS has openly bragged about their plans to use the refugee relocation process to gain unprecedented access to Western nations. Intelligence reports show at least one of the attackers in Paris used a stolen Syrian passport to travel freely throughout the region. Why should we think the United States would be treated differently by those who seek to harm us?

“Today’s vote will put extra precautions in place so that we can continue to accept Syrian refugees and feel more confident about our own children’s safety in doing so. We should continue to look for ways to protect and support those affected by the fighting in Syria. But we cannot do that at the peril of our own national security.”

Hardy also gave a four-minute floor speech on November 17th, saying “France was not the beginning, nor will it be the end.”

Dean Heller:

Although the bill itself has yet to make it to the U.S. Senate, Nevada Senator Dean Heller has wasted little time in making his position clear, sending two open letters on Monday directed at Secretary of State John Kerry and Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval. In the letter to Kerry, Heller writes:

“Despite concerns from many in Congress and the American public regarding the threat of ISIS and the safety of our nation, the Administration has maintained its commitment to admitting additional Syrian refugees to the U.S. While I recognize the importance of assisting these individuals during a time of crisis, I also strongly believe Congress must conduct thorough oversight to determine whether the existing vetting process by DHS and the State Department is robust enough.”

Sandoval asked President Obama on Monday to cease sending Syrian refugees to the state, and on Wednesday asked the state’s Attorney General for an opinion on the governor’s authority to manage incoming refugees.

Harry Reid:

Although the Senate Minority Leader told reporters on Monday that he’ll adopt a “wait and see” attitude on potential holdups to the refugee program, Reid told reporters today that the current House bill won’t make it to the president’s desk.




Nevada Legislature 2013 Calendar

Assuming the world doesn’t end on Friday, here’s a Google calendar with all committee meeting times and deadlines in one place. I’ll continually update it as the year goes on, but this is the first taste of the crazy 120 days awaiting us in the spring.

Internships and summer plans

My summer internship at the Reno Gazette-Journal begins tomorrow, and I won’t lie – I’m nervous. Though I wrote countless stories for the Nevada Sagebrush and the University’s Media Relations, this will be my first actual experience in a professional newsroom. The stakes are higher, the audience is much, much larger, the potential to fuck everything up is exponentially greater, and yet it’s an opportunity to do more meaningful and ‘important’ journalism. I am very aware that I’m not going to be immediately diving into breaking news topics and hardcore Woodward-and-Bernstein style journalism, but probably going to stuffy and mildly boring Reno-based events. But I’m okay with that for two reasons:

  1. Paying dues: If there is one lesson I learned pledging a fraternity, it’s that you have to pay your dues. Even though most organizations don’t have the kind of clear-cut boundaries between new and old members, being in a fraternity has clarified the divide. A new person in any organization (fraternal, journalistic or otherwise) will usually be stuck with the least appealing and crappiest jobs or tasks to complete. It’s not fair, it’s not fun, but it’s how organizations work. Accepting that role, and working around it, is a key to early success.
  2. Avoid discouragement and do workIf assigned a ‘boring’ story or event to cover, there’s no benefit to be gained by going through the motions of reporting and producing a C-quality story. My view is that average work, especially in a declining industry such as journalism, is a death sentence. For me, it makes no sense  to limit the opportunities I’ve been given.

There are thousands of journalism students across the country competing for a dwindling number of already limited jobs, and the competition means only the very best will have secured some resemblance of regular employment. I plan to make the most of this internship because I want to capitalize on the opportunity to produce quality journalism to a larger audience than I’ve ever had.

Because it’s a full time internship, I most likely will have less frequent updates to this blog. I do not plan on completely abandoning this site, and instead want to focus on expanding the vision and topics I write about. Yes, specificity and building a niche is key, but I feel that I write best when I’m invested in a subject like a movie I enjoyed or a thought-provoking book series. Though these topics and ideas may not fit into my niche of Nevada journalism, I’m confident that they will be at worst entertaining and at best a nice change of pace from my usual writings.

The summer is here, and I’m nervous. But also excited.

First post!

Hello everyone!

For those of you who stalk me on Facebook, you know by now that I’ve resigned from my postion as the Assistant News Editor at the Nevada Sagebrush a few hours ago. I don’t want to go into the details because I don’t believe in dwelling on the past, so here’s what I want to do for the future.

  • Begin blogging: Because this is my own personal blog, I’m not hindered by any page constraints, word counts or specific topics. I love sports, design, and learning about journalism, and I want to share all everything that I find. I’ll be rolling out some daily and weekly features soon.
  • Original Reporting: Even though I no longer work for a newspaper, that doesn’t mean that I can’t produce original content. I have several ideas for long-form, in-depth stories that I can actually take the time to work on, rather than shambling together a few interviews in time for the weekly deadline.
  • Working toward the future: I do plan to go back to the Sagebrush next semester, so I’ll need to start finding better ways to tell stories, manage a staff and build relationships with future coworkers.

For now, I want to focus on getting a job, helping make my fraternity excellent, stay active on social media and to not become complacent. It’s a cliche by now, but today’s the first step in a new direction for me. And I’m excited.