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The D.C. Riot, A New President And Senate: What Can Nevada Expect?

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

People shelter in the House gallery as protesters try to break into the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington.

The whole country is still trying to understand exactly how and why a crowd of supporters of President Donald Trump breached Capitol Hill security and made their way into the halls of Congress.

Democrat Harry Reid spent decades in Congress as a senator.

He told KNPR's State of Nevada that his first job in Washington, D.C. was as a Capitol Police officer. He also relied on that law enforcement team to protect him when he was the Senate Majority Leader.

Reid called Wednesday's riot "disheartening."

"The United States Capitol should not be a place that is overrun with terrorists and that's what they are," he said, "That's the first time since the war of 1812 that the Capitol has been invaded. I think it's a terrible day in the history of our country."

Reid, like many others, has placed the blame for the riot at the feet of President Trump.

"The fact is that Donald Trump is the one that incited this riot," Reid said, "He asked people to come down to the Capitol with him. The people that came there, the mob, they thought he was going to be there with them. He's the one who got them there. There is no question in my mind that the very conservative 'Wall Street Journal' is right saying: 'It's time for him to go.'"

The former senator said the country can't take a chance at what President Trump might do in his remaining days in office.

Despite all that has gone on over the past few days, Reid is still optimistic about democracy and America. He is also optimistic about President-elect Joe Biden.

Reid believes Biden will be able to compromise and bridge the divides that many people see as insurmountable. 

While former Senator Reid puts the blame for Wednesday's riot on President Trump. Congressman Mark Amodei believes there is plenty of blame to go around for what happened on Wednesday.

"The language that was used was pretty inflammatory," he said of President Trump's speech to his supporters before the riot started, "I missed the part where he said, 'I want you to go up to the Capitol and break windows and fight with the Capitol Police and all that other sort of things."

Now, some Trump supporters are peddling the idea that the rioters were incited by antifa and Black Lives Matter members in the crowd.

Hugh Jackson, editor of the Nevada Current, said not enough Republicans are pointing out the falsities in that idea. He took issue with Amodei's statement.

"There aren't a lot of Republicans who are pushing back against, unfortunately," he said, "As a matter of fact, Congressman Amodei earlier went of the 'both side-ism' approach to this."

Jackson said Amodei didn't say anything about the "threat that Donald Trump poses to the nation as he continues to be president of the United States for the next few days."

Jackson agreed with Senator Reid that President Trump incited the violence on Wednesday.  

For his response, Amodei pointed to the two votes he made to certify the election results, which he said has gotten him in trouble with supporters of the president. 

With that being said, Amodei said what happened Wednesday was "shameful."

"It's just an awful day for the Capitol and what it represents," he said. 

He said what the rioters did on Wednesday was "phenomenally out of order," but he is ready to move on and start looking ahead to the new session of Congress.

The new session of Congress will look a lot different than it has for the past four years. 

Sondra Cosgrove, founder of the non-partisan Vote Nevada, said lawmakers have a lot of work to do, and people want them to come together to accomplish that work.

“Both sides need to come together and prioritize the American people right now," she said, "No one wants to have two more years of just people arguing with each other. We’ve got to get somethings done then maybe we can do some partisans politics.”

The biggest issue to be addressed, noted Las Vegas Review-Journal politics and government editor Steve Sebelius, is the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have to triage. You have to figure out what’s wrong with the patient and treat the most critical thing first and that’s, of course, going to be dealing with the coronavirus,” he said.

No one can really say what's ahead for the country going into 2021 with the pandemic, but Sebelius said Nevada has a lot more pull with the in-coming Biden administration. 

“I think Nevada is probably in a better place than it was before. We have a senior senator who was the head of [Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee] that helped take the Senate back for the Democrats,” he said. 

The fallout from the pandemic will be a major issue for Nevada's lawmakers when the new legislative session begins in February. The loss of tax revenue has created major holes in the state's budget.

Former state senator and current lobbyist Warren Hardy told KNPR's State of Nevada that it will be the "budget session from hell."

"I just don't look for anything but the budget to be addressed," he said, "Legislative leadership has basically said: if it doesn't create jobs or save jobs or help us get out of this financial crisis, we're just not going to have time for it this session.'"

He said there were some increases in state spending during the last session but most of that was cut during the special sessions in the summer.

Sebelius agreed. He said lawmakers will be focused on the absolute needs of the state and nothing else; however, two big factors that will determine the state's budget are out of the hands of the legislators.

The first, he said, is what federal aid might be coming to the state and when that might be available. The second is when visitors will feel comfortable returning and when large conventions and trade shows will start booking in Las Vegas again.

Rep. Amodei did have some idea about the first problem. 

"Certainly, there will be more [federal aid] coming," he said.

While he is certain more federal aid for the states will be approved, he could not say when it might make it to the state's coffers.

(Editor's note: During the discussion, Assemblywoman Annie Black was erroneously called "Maggie" Black.)


U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev. (ret.); U.S. Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev.; Steve Sebelius, politics and government editor, Las Vegas Review-Journal; Hugh Jackson, editor, Nevada Current; Sondra Cosgrove, Vote Nevada; Warren Hardy, lobbyist and former NV state senator

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Joe Schoenmann joined Nevada Public Radio in 2014. He works with a talented team of producers at State of Nevada who explore the casino industry, sports, politics, public health and everything in between.