Nevada members: Bring government conferences back to Las Vegas

According to the American Hotel and Lodging Association, several federal agencies have formally decided against holding meetings in resort cities, and many Defense Department branches no longer hold meetings where gambling is legal.

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But Nevada's House delegation says that what happens in Washington, D.C., should stay in Washington, D.C., and that the lavish GSA meeting should not end all government visits to Las Vegas.

On Wednesday, Nevada's four House members introduced the Protecting Resort Cities from Discrimination Act, H.R. 1880. This bill would prevent federal agencies from blacklisting resorts and casinos as conference destinations.

Reps. Mark Amodei (R-Nev.), Joe Heck (R-Nev.), Steven Horsford (D-Nev.) and Dina Titus (D-Nev.) argue that the government is overreacting to the GSA conference, and that the less expensive meetings that Las Vegas can host give taxpayers a better value.

"These prohibitions emphasize optics over real fiscal restraint, because they have been implemented without concern for whether the banned resorts and casinos present a better value for taxpayers," Amodei said Wednesday. "Nevada's hospitality industry offers the most competitive rates in the country and the expertise to affordability host large and small meetings."

Heck said Nevada is being "unfairly targeted" as the reason for the GSA's wasteful conference, when blame should have been focused only on the GSA.

"Resort cities like Las Vegas are not the problem here," he said. "Irresponsible federal workers are."

Horsford and Titus agreed that Las Vegas offers the most competitive rates, and that the gambling mecca should not be taken off the table.

"Federal agencies have a responsibility to maximize taxpayer dollars in conducting official business, and no place provides greater value and convenience for conventioneers than Las Vegas," Titus said.

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