By Steve Tetreault – Stephens Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON — The formalities behind him, U.S. Rep. Steven Horsford has begun work as the newest member of Congress from Nevada.
Horsford was sworn into office on Jan. 3, the first day of the 113th Congress, when new lawmakers are joined in opening ceremonies by supporters and family members.
“Yes, I’m official now,” Horsford said after picking up his voting card and other accoutrements of his new position.
The Las Vegas Democrat was elected to represent the 4th Congressional District, created to reflect the state’s continued population growth over the past decade.
The district includes most of northern Clark County, parts of Douglas and Lyon counties, and all of Nye, Esmeralda, Lincoln, Mineral, and White Pine counties. Most of Horsford’s constituents live in the North Las Vegas and Las Vegas parts of the district.
Besides being the state’s newest lawmaker, Horsford became the first African-American from Nevada elected to federal office. The same day he took office he also became one of five new members of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Horsford takes office at a tumultuous time. The 112th Congress adjourned just a day earlier after struggling through the holidays to avert the “fiscal cliff,” finally doing so on New Year’s Day. To some the opening of the 113th Congress seemed less like a fresh start and more like a new shift of workers punching in time clocks to resume hammering at the nation’s debt and deficit problems.
Already lawmakers were focusing on a looming debate over increasing the government’s borrowing powers by late February or risking default on its debts, a replay of a congressional slugfest in the summer of 2011.
But Horsford declared it a fresh start. “We come in with a new set of eyes. There are 80 new freshman members who come from very diverse areas.
“Clearly the focus first and foremost needs to be to come together to put the priorities of the country first and foremost,” Horsford said. “The last Congress did not end well, and I look forward to being part of the new Congress that works in a bipartisan way.”
With four U.S. House members, Nevada now has as much representation as Kansas, Iowa, Mississippi and Arkansas and more than West Virginia, Nebraska and New Mexico, which have three apiece. All told, the Silver State has as many or more lawmakers than 19 other states.
“Today marks the day that our congressional delegation grows by one and gives us a stronger voice in Washington,” U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., said on the opening day. Still, he added, “as a small state, we need to fight to ensure Nevada receives its fair share of resources.”