On Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence appeared with U.S. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, U.S. Senator Dean Heller (R), and Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt (R) to a crowd of about 1,500 military service members and invited guests at Nellis Air Force Base near Las Vegas. After Heller introduced Pence and praised President Donald Trump’s first year in office, Pence warned of potential trouble ahead in North Korea and the Middle East.
And yet, neither Heller nor Pence addressed the trouble at home when it comes to the White House’s controversies over immigration reform, marijuana legalization, and the federal budget.

“[President Trump] gave us a chance to get this country in the right direction.”
– Senator Dean Heller

Photo by Andrew Davey

As he was introducing Vice President Pence outside the Thunderbirds Museum on Nellis Air Force Base, Heller lavished praise upon the Trump Administration. According to Heller, “[Trump] gave us a chance to get this country in the right direction.”
Heller was selective in describing how Trump was moving the country “in the right direction”. He thanked Trump for giving active duty military “the largest pay raise in eight years”, even though that pay raise was part of a military budget bill that won’t take full effect unless and until Congress agrees to roll back sequestration budget restrictions that were first imposed in 2011.

HAPPENING NOW: Vice President Mike Pence and U.S. Senator Dean Heller, and U.S. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson at Nellis Air Force Base near Las Vegas.

Posted by Nevada Forward on Thursday, January 11, 2018

Noticeably absent from Heller’s speech was any mention of immigration reform or marijuana legalization. Hours after Trump refused to reverse course on denying Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to refugees from places he described as “shithole countries“, Heller made no mention of Trump’s rollback of TPS and DACA protections for immigrants in need. Heller also declined to address Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision to allow U.S. Attorneys to crack down on marijuana sales in states where it’s now legal, even as Governor Brian Sandoval (R) and Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Carson City) have joined Nevada Democrats in endorsing legislation to protect the marijuana industry.

“As President Trump has made clear, all options are on the table.”  
– Vice President Mike Pence, describing the Trump Administration’s stance on North Korea

Photo by Andrew Davey

Once Pence took the stage, he thanked the military service members present, then focused heavily on defending the Trump Administration’s foreign policy. “Rogue regimes seek to threaten our people and endanger our element,” Pence said. He later added, “We can only ensure peace through strength.”
“The truth is the world is more dangerous today than at any point since the fall of communism,” Pence proclaimed. He then pointed to ISIL as one of those dangers, and used a phrase that even Trump’s own national security team have urged the White House not to say: “There’s no greater threat to our people and our way of life than the menace of ‘radical Islamic terrorism’.” Pence later gave Trump credit for the decimation of ISIL in Iraq and Syria, a development that actually began during Barack Obama’s Presidency.

Happening Now: Vice President Mike Pence is speaking at Nellis Air Force Base near Las Vegas

Posted by Nevada Forward on Thursday, January 11, 2018

Pence also addressed North Korea and its push to develop nuclear weapons: “In the face of ongoing threats and provocations caused by the regime in North Korea, I can assure you that the resolve of the United States is firm.” Moments later, and despite Trump’s own recent boast of having a “very good relationship” with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Pence suggested that military action is still possible: “As President Trump has made clear, all options are on the table.”

“Congress has a job to do, but just a few days to do it.”
– Vice President Mike Pence

Pence mostly refrained from addressing domestic policies during his speech at Nellis, though he did mention Congress’ ongoing challenge in passing a long-term budget: “Within the next week, Congress will face a deadline for funding the government and funding the military.”
Pence then promised an end to sequestration limits on military spending: “The budget sequester placed a tremendous burden on our defense […] Those days are over.” Pence, however, remained silent on sequestration limits on non-military spending, which is one of the issues that continues to hold back any bipartisan agreement on a longer term federal budget.
And like Heller, Pence declined to address the other issues holding back a bipartisan budget agreement, such as the DREAM Act, TPS, and potentially the White House’s opposition to marijuana legalization as well. Instead, Pence simply said, “Congress has a job to do, but just a few days to do it.” More specifically, Congress has just over a week left, and neither Vice President Pence nor Senator Heller provided any kind of specific answers on how that is supposed to happen any time soon.