Congressman Amodei: Polarization in D.C. frustrating

Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., says that after 70 days as a member of Congress, he is frustrated by the polarization and partisanship preventing progress toward fixing the nation's ills.

Pointing to the failure of the so-called "supercommittee" to find a compromise, Amodei said, "I don't think anybody ever said it was going to work but to watch people on both sides immediately go to the talking points is frustrating."

He said the debate has regressed to "Republicans want to kill old people and Democrats want to drive every business out of business."

"Everybody gets what the Democrats want - more revenue; and everybody gets what the Republicans want - less spending. The question is do (the nation's needs) get met when the house still is standing or do we wait 'til the house burns down?"

Amodei said the partisanship is far more intense than in the Nevada Legislature, where he served from 1996-2010. Amodei said that during his stint as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee he worked closely with and Las Vegas Democrat Terry Care.

Amodei said the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee is "phenomenally political."

"It seems like it's politics first, facts and issues second, and I didn't experience anything like that in the Nevada Legislature," he said. "When it's to the exclusion of what the facts are, how do you move the ball down field on a given issue?"

He said the same is true on the budget and debt issues and, as a result, opposing sides are just blocking each other.

"We've got the House as the blocking force for what comes out of the administration and Senate; and the administration and Senate as blocking force for what comes out of the House," Amodei said.

He cited the failure of the Balanced Budget Amendment to pass even though the same proposal was just one vote short in 1995.

"I don't want to sound too judgmental, but it may fall under the category of it's politics for sport instead of politics for policy," he said.

But he said certain things are on the horizon that will hopefully force both leadership and the rank and file members to sit down and actually begin working toward solutions.

Those include the issue of extending the unemployment insurance and the automatic cuts, including deep reductions to the defense budget.

"How much longer can you continue to endure trillion-dollar deficits?" he asked.

After the Thanksgiving break, he said, "there's going to be a full line up of work to do starting with what direction are we headed now that the supercommittee is done."

Amodei said there are issues facing the nation that must be dealt with long before the 2012 elections.

He said House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor are willing to negotiate although "we've got some factions that aren't."

He said there is less willingness to compromise among the Democratic leadership, but that some rank and file Democrats are more moderate.

Amodei said one difference between himself and Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., is that he is not living in his office.

"I've got an apartment a block and a half from the office. I walk to work. I can take the metro to the airport. I'm back (in Carson City) every weekend."

He said his daughter took one look at the apartment "and dragged me to Target" to buy some basics.

"I have a bed, a night stand, clock radio and a shower curtain," he said. "I finally got a TV on Wednesday."

You can contact Amodei in Washington, D.C. at 202-225-6155 or through his website at


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