FILE - In this Dec. 17, 2019, photo, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., speaks with reporters at the Capi ...

Cheney defends democracy in speech to Las Vegas leaders

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney denounced violent rhetoric, partisan division and tolerance of politicians who have put democracy in peril during a speech Thursday to Las Vegas business leaders.

“Our freedom is fragile,” Cheney, R-Wyo., told the Vegas Chamber, community and education leaders. “Our freedoms don’t defend themselves.”

Cheney said there is a sense that “we somehow we can live in a nation where we have a former president who is attempting, still today, to unravel the foundations of our Republic.”

Moderator Jon Porter, a former Republican U.S. congressman from Nevada, referenced the recent murder of Review-Journal investigative reporter Jeff German and the arrest of a public official charged with his death; Cheney pointed to the threatening tone in the body politic.

“We know that the kind of violent rhetoric that we’ve seen, you know, leads to far worse than words,” Cheney said during her speech and question and answer session.

Cheney touched on her election reform bill, explaining that the changes were needed to prevent exploitation of the Electoral Vote Count Act that led to the Capitol siege on Jan. 6, 2021.

Cheney serves on the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection and filed the bipartisan reform bill with U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif. The legislation passed in the House, 229-203 with support from only nine Republicans.

Nevada’s congressional delegation voted along party lines. Democratic U.S. Reps. Dina Titus, Steven Horsford and Susie Lee voted for passage. Republican U.S. Rep. Mark Amodei opposed the bill.

Visiting the capital

Cheney’s 37-minute speech to more than 200 business leaders and educators from Las Vegas came during the annual pilgrimage to the nation’s capital organized by the VegasChamber. Members spend a week lobbying for federal assistance for the water crisis in Southern Nevada, education grant funding, workforce training and transportation projects.

Chamber Chief Executive Officer Mary Beth Sewald told the Review-Journal the business community is “playing the long game” and using its strength in numbers to push for local concerns and access to available resources, such as education grants and program funding.

“Nevada is doing pretty well as it relates to transportation grants, but we really have to take a more comprehensive approach,” Sewald said. “As a state, it’s really clear that Nevada is constantly leaving money on the table.”

She said Nevada leaders were urging the federal government to work with states in the Colorado River basin to fight the ongoing drought that threatens communities, particularly Las Vegas, which relies on Lake Mead for 90 percent of its waters. Business leaders also want to see Congress pass a lands bill that would transfer federal property to the county for growth, recreation and environmental needs.

U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., pulled her lands bill from consideration after Clark County balked at a compromise that reduced acreage. Amodei’s Northern Nevada lands bill also was shelved when it was rejected for inclusion in the defense bill.

Jan. 6 talk

Cheney, one of the most high-profile members of Congress, spoke to the group about her role investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection and former President Donald Trump’s role in inciting the violence at the Capitol that resulted in five deaths.

She was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump for “incitement of insurrection.” Trump was acquitted by the Senate.

Trump retaliated, funding an opponent who defeated Cheney in the Republican primary in Wyoming. But Cheney said her work would continue, and she has vowed to do anything to stop Trump from being re-elected. She urged her Nevada audience to vote against election deniers who are on the Nov. 8 ballot and demand accountability from elected officials.

Cheney said Nevada businesses expect excellence from their employees and associates.

“We don’t demand excellence from our political leaders. We put up with a lot,” she said, noting lawmakers who have taken to social media with outrageous statements and claims for “clicks” and fundraising.

Sewald said that while Cheney “can be a polarizing individual or figure,” her perspective on moving forward as a country after the Jan. 6 insurrection was welcomed by business leaders. Cheney received a standing ovation.

The chamber president also acknowledged the partisan divide in Congress, and the election, could hold up passage of spending bills until after the Nov. 8 election.

She said Nevada leaders here were undeterred.

“These issues are going to be important to Nevada, no matter when they’re addressed. So it’s imperative that the biggest chamber is a constant voice, advocating on behalf of businesses and employers in our state, and employees,” she said.

Contact Gary Martin at Follow @garymartindc on Twitter.

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