Nevada Senators Stand Up For XpressWest
Last week we learned that two leading Congressional Republicans were trying to block approval of a $5.5 billion federal loan for the XpressWest high speed rail project that would connect Las Vegas to Victorville and eventually serve Los Angeles. This week, both of Nevada’s U.S. Senators – including Republican Dean Heller – rose to defend the project and the loan request:
Senator Harry Reid says the Xpress West project is “something that we should do.”
Senator Dean Heller says the rail between Las Vegas and Victorville “promises a major shot in the arm” for Southern Nevada’s economy.
Reid’s support is not surprising, given that he has been a strong backer of the XpressWest project since 2010 and has no love lost for right-wingers Jeff Sessions and Paul Ryan, the two Republicans trying to block the federal loan.
But Heller’s support of XpressWest is somewhat surprising, given that many Republicans in the House and Senate are now ideologically opposed to high speed rail projects even when their benefits are obvious and local demand is great. Heller’s backing for XpressWest provides important cover to the Obama Administration on this loan proposal. Even though they should approve the loan regardless of what Republicans think, there’s no doubt that it helps if Obama and Ray LaHood can point out that the project has the bipartisan support of both Nevada Senators.
While I haven’t seen any comments from California’s U.S. Senators on the proposal, I would expect both Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer to support it as well.
With strong political support from Nevada and California, the XpressWest loan request ought to sail toward approval.