Last month, Nevada Congresswoman Shelley Berkley (D-NV) voted against H.R. 2578, the Conservation and Economic Growth Act, which includes provisions that would allow the City of Yerington, Nevada, to purchase 11,500 acres of federal land at fair market value. The land would be used in the Nevada Copper Pumpkin Hollow project, which is estimated to add 800 jobs to the area. Yerington is located in Lyon County, where the unemployment rate is 16%, the highest in the state of Nevada, and almost double the national average.
On June 14, the Congressional Budget Office issued a favorable report on the predecessor bill, H.R. 4039, the Yerington Land Conveyance and Sustainable Development Act.
As ordered reported by the House Committee on Natural Resources on June 7, 2012
H.R. 4039 would require the Secretary of the Interior to sell about 11,500 acres of federal land at fair market value to the city of Yerington, Nevada. Based on information about the value of similar lands in western Nevada, CBO estimates that enacting the legislation would increase offsetting receipts (a credit against direct spending) by $2 million in 2013; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures apply. Because the bill would require the city to cover any administrative costs associated with the conveyance, CBO estimates that the bill would not affect discretionary spending. Enacting the bill would not affect revenues.
H.R. 4039 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act. The land conveyance would benefit the city of Yerington; any costs to the city would be incurred involuntarily.
Subsequently, the provisions of the Yerington Land Conveyance and Sustainable Development Act were rolled into H.R. 2578, the Conservation and Economic Growth Act.
On June 19, 2012, the House voted on this larger bill, and it passed by a 232 to 188 margin.
Berkley sided with the environmental group League of Conservation Voters, who publicly asked her to oppose the bill. In a statement explaining her vote, Congresswoman Berkley said:
I am a strong supporter and original co-sponsor of the Yerington Land Conveyance and Sustainable Development Act, authored by my Nevada colleague, Representative Mark Amodei. It is extremely unfortunate the House did not have the opportunity to vote on this important job-creating measure except as part of a larger legislative package that has no chance of passing in the Senate and faces strong opposition in Nevada. I am eager to continue working closely with Congressman Amodei and other members of the Nevada delegation to pass this crucial legislation in the near future.
A spokesman for her opponent in this November's Senate election, Republican Congressman Dean Heller, who introduced H.R. 4039, the Yerington Land Conveyance and Sustainable Development Act, and voted for the successor bill H.R. 2578, the Conservation and Economic Growth Act, was quick to jump on Berkley's voting gaffe:
"Lyon County’s unemployment rate was the highest in the state in June, but seven-term Congresswoman Shelley Berkley still sided with the Washington D.C.-based environmental group League of Conservation Voters instead of with Nevadans. It’s clear that when push comes to shove, Congresswoman Berkley is looking out for her interests and the interests of her party’s bosses rather than with struggling Nevadans,” said Chandler Smith, Heller for Senate spokeswoman.
Michael Patrick Leahy is a Breitbart News contributor, Editor of Broadside Books’ Voices of the Tea Party e-book series, and author of Covenant of Liberty: The Ideological Origins of the Tea Party Movement.