One-on-One Interviews with Cabinet and White House Staff - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

One-on-One Interviews with Cabinet and White House Staff

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While in Washington DC, KTVN Arianna Bennett spoke with a few cabinet members and White House staff about policies that could affect Nevadans. 

Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos said,  "There are too many students today who are assigned to schools that are not working for them, yet they don't have the opportunity or the empowerment to make another choice."

The signature policy on Devos' wishlist is one that Nevadans are pretty familiar with. DeVos said, "An education savings account is one of the newer innovations that allows parents to actually customize their child's education and frankly that's the direction we're going to move as a nation."
 
ESA's were a topic of heated debate in the Nevada Legislature this past session. Alongside those, Devos mentioned easing federal regulations on states' education systems allowing more flexibility for teachers, but in the end, it was all about the ESA's..

When asked if DeVos had any other messages for Nevada viewers, she replied, "I would just say, figure out a way to get that ESA implemented. I know that was a big disappointment in not getting it funded this year, and I would encourage the legislators there to get that done on behalf of the thousands of families who are in a queue waiting for one of those."

The Head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt also had a message for Nevadans, especially those interested in the future of nuclear power and Yucca Mountain.

Pruitt is pro-nuclear power, pro-business and anti-regulation if it cuts down on economic growth. Most of his answers were more focused on the business side of environmental policy.

The EPA was among the first for budget cuts under the Trump administration, but Pruitt says that won't hurt their ability to do the job. He says that assertions that they're not going to safeguard air and water quality across the nation and in Nevada, is just part of a "false narrative."

Pruitt said, "We look forward to working with Governor Sandoval. In fact, we've been working with him on many issues, superfund issues, there in Nevada. We see this as a partnership with the State of Nevada."

Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget said, "I know what it would be like to go back on August recess and try to explain to people why after seven years we had not repealed Obamacare."

For Mulvaney, getting the country's budget on track has a lot to do with healthcare reform. One of the federal government's biggest expenses is healthcare entitlements like Medicare and Medicaid that puts the Affordable Care Act Medicaid expansion on the chopping block.

More than 200,000 Nevadans have coverage under that expansion, but for Nevadans worried about those cuts, Mulvaney says the concern is overhyped. "Often what folks say is getting cut is simply slowing the rate of growth, and that's what a lot of the proposed bills do for the Medicaid expansions."

Mulvaney is watching some looming deadlines as well. Congress will have to raise the debt ceiling, and pass a dozen funding bills this summer in order to keep the government running.

When asked how he feels about Congress' ability to work together to get these things done, Mulvaney responded, "Uh, that is a really good question. I'd like to say I'm cautiously optimistic, but maybe I'm cautiously pessimistic."  

The concern over the partisan divide and obstructionist tactics on both sides of the aisle is common here. Marc Short, Director of Legislative Affairs for the White House said, "Right now it's probably more polarized than it has been in many, many years."

Short is the man in charge of wrangling President Trump's campaign promises into legislation on Capitol Hill. "It's created a very disharmonious attitude on the Senate floor, and that's a challenge for the American people." Still, Short believes the Affordable Care Act repeal is inevitable.

Short said, "We are optimistic that it'll happen. It's going to be a long road ahead. It's been a long road behind us."

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