January 26, 2017 – By Ray Hagar, Nevada Newsmakers
Nevada’s 2nd U.S. House District Rep. Mark Amodei, the Nevada chair of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, was critical of Trump’s call for an investigation into voter fraud for 2016 election, doubts funding for Trump’s proposed wall on the Mexican border could pass in the House of Representatives and hopes Trump will not resort to governing by executive order.
Those were just a few of the topics that Amodei, R-Carson City, touched on during the broadcast of a Nevada Newsmakers program.
Earlier this week, Trump told congressional leaders that he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton because of 3 million to 5 million illegal votes. When asked about Trump’s subsequent call for a major investigation into the 2016 election, Amodei said:
“First of all, since some of it is obviously political, it’s like ‘Hey you won. OK? You won,” Amodei said. “So let’s start moving forward and making the folks who voted for you look smart.”
Trump has signed executive orders in his first week in office to beef up immigration and border security. But to get the money to build his proposed wall on the Mexican border, he will need help from Congress, which controls the purse-strings of U.S. government.
Although Republicans have the majority in both houses of Congress, Amodei sees little chance of border-wall funding getting approved in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“I don’t think you are going to get any Democratic votes to fund a wall as a campaign promise, a blanket statement,” Amodei said. “That means you will you need 218 Republican votes. In our (Republican) conference now, I think we can lose 27 votes (and still pass it.) But I know from history, the Republican herd … we could lose 27 votes on whether you want the sun to come up in the west or the east.”
Current details of Trump’s wall are so sketchy that Amodei said he would — at this time — have a hard time voting for it.
“I want to know if the wall is 2,000 miles (long) and I suspect it is not,” he said. “I want to know if double fences are a better deal and what are we trying to provide there? We are trying to provide security for our borders — first and foremost. So is it fences? Is it a wall? Is it technology? Is it personnel? I suspect that over 2,000 miles in the Southwestern United States that it is a mix of things. So to be a good trooper, I am not going to walk out and vote for a wall just to say I voted for it.”
Trump promised in campaign speeches that Mexico would pay for the wall but now Trump is sliding, Amodei said.
“The rhetoric was pretty tough in the campaign and everybody heard it,” Amodei said. “It is all on the record with the capital R.
“The follow-through already, for instance, on the wall is now, ‘Well maybe we’ll have to pay for it but we’ll get Mexico to pay us back.’ That’s a long ways from ‘We are going to build the wall and they’re gonna pay for it,’ ” Amodei said.
Trump has signed other executive orders in his first week, including two to move forward with construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines.
Amodei is concerned about Trump bypassing Congress and governing via executive order — something Republicans were highly critical of President Obama for doing when he was president.
“Here is the problem: I would hope that this does not end up being sort of a hypocritical time,” Amodei said. “Because I can assure you, in the 63 or 64 months I have been there (in Congress), I’ve ranted and raved about executive orders and overreach. Republicans have sued the last administration over it. And I sure hope, we are not going to have — as the main governing tool of the new administration — the executive order. And oh by the way, Congress, you just follow up and clean up after us with funding afterwards.”
Amodei said he is concerned Trump will treat Congress with the same contempt Obama did.
“I guess the frustration you hear in my voice is, Barrack Obama treated Congress like it was something that didn’t exist,” Amodei said. “I hope we have not traded in the Donkey Democratic flavor of that for the Republican Elephant flavor of that. I thought (Vice President) Mike Pence’s presence would go against that. But I can tell you I have a concern about that, quite frankly, right now.”
Amodei said he did not regret being Trump’s Nevada campaign chair and was glad Trump was elected. Trump, however, did not carry Nevada.
“I think it is important that we give this guy a chance, so we will see,” Amodei said of Trump. “Make no mistake — I’d rather be trying this this than going the way we were for the last eight years.”
Amodei also praised Trump’s ability to lead large organizations.
“I don’t know him personally” but “for what I know, he is an excellent chief executive,” Amodei said. “I mean he is. So he’s got himself in the ultimate chief executive’s job and I expect him to be, as far as he administers that, to be really good.
“Make no mistake about it, the guy is pretty good at running an organization.”
Yet Trump have has lacked tact in dealing with the other branches of government during his first week in office, Amodei said.
“There is a word in here that I think is appropriate and that is finesse,” Amodei said. “You need to use some finesse in acknowledging the other two branches of government.”
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