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Steve Horsford is running to once again represent Congressional District 4 in Congress.
Horsford lost the seat to Cresent Hardy, who he is running against in November's mid-term.
Both of the former lawmakers got a chance at the seat when current representative Ruben Kihuen decided not to run again after allegations of sexual harassment.
You held this seat before but you lost in 2014 a Cresent Hardy. What didn't you do then and what are you doing now to change the outcome?
“You know we learned a lesson and that lesson was it's all about connecting with voters on issues that matter to them most and engaging them throughout the year not just when it's time to vote. And that's one of the big lessons that I've learned. So in this election, we have been running an issue-oriented, grassroots campaign from the beginning, talking to voters at the doors, on the phones, at community meetings meeting them where they are throughout the entire district.”
Horsford says he’s honored to have a chance to campaign and ask people for their vote.
Was there a moment where you decided I need to get back into this and what was that moment?
“Like many people, I'm frustrated with the chaos that's coming out of Washington under this current administration. I could not sit on the sidelines knowing that there was something that I could do to try to make things better.”
Nevada is unique in that our most populous region is down here in the southern valley but many of your constituents are in some pretty rural areas. What are some of the biggest issues facing these people?
“What's true about this district is that a lot of the same issues cover the district. The fact that we have an issue around the access to health care -affordable health care - is an issue that affects the urban areas of the district as well as the rural parts. Access to veterans’ services is a big issue throughout our rural communities. I'm proud to have worked previously on the Pahrump Outreach Clinic to make sure that that facility got built and it's now open providing services to our veterans in Pahrump. But a lot of the issues in our rural communities really deal with economic development and jobs and making sure that they have the same opportunities to succeed as any other person throughout the state. And that's again what we're fighting to do.”
Immigration is a never-ending debate. What are your ideas on how to reach some middle ground on how to fix the nation's immigration policy?
When I served in 2012, I was one of five primary sponsors of the comprehensive immigration reform bill - H.R. 15 that's the bill that passed the Senate. It had bipartisan support. It was backed by groups including the U.S. Chamber, the farm workers, as well as labor. We worked in the House to reach agreement on a bill that had Republican support. But Speaker John Boehner, the speaker at the time, refused to bring it to the floor for a vote. And that's really the only reason that that law is not in effect today. And it's part of what's contributing to the problem of families being torn apart. The children that have been taken away from their families on the border. DACA [recipients are] still not having the security to know that they can continue to live here without fear and immigration to me has always been about keeping our families together.”
Horsford said his mother immigrated to the United States from Trinidad when she was 12 but she got caught up in the broken immigration system when her mother, Horsford’s grandmother, became sick. That is one of the reasons he supports comprehensive immigration reform.
Obamacare, as it's known as or the Affordable Care Act, is being dismantled by Congress. Do you think the Affordable Care Act should be dismantled or changed?
“I am a proponent for preserving and protecting the health care we have while making it better. My opponent on the other hand when he was in office voted several times to repeal the Affordable Care Act. And let's talk about what this does right here in Nevada. Since the Affordable Care Act was implemented by Governor Brian Sandoval, a Republican, he was the first Republican governor in the country to adopt the exchanges and the Medicaid expansion and he did it because more than a third of our children in this state were uninsured and most of our adult population. Since the Affordable Care Act has been implemented in 2012 we've been able to cut the rate in half of uninsured children here in Nevada. We're still eight worst in the quality of care and that's in large part because for so long they didn't have access to care.”
Horsford believes that healthcare is a right not a privilege and he would like to see the country move toward universal health care for everyone.
You say people are sick of partisanship. You also told me earlier you wanted to get into this race in part because if President Trump. How do you view his performance so far?
“To be clear, what I am most concerned about and what people talk to me about in my district is the divisiveness under this administration. The fact that he has pushed policies that are against the values of who we are as Americans. The Muslim ban for example and how he has called out individuals based on their faith. The fact that individuals can no longer feel protected based on who they love under this administration because of policies that they want to roll back. Under this administration, they've done everything they can to try to divide us by race, by gender, by faith, by sexual orientation. That's not a partisan issue. There are a lot of Republicans, there are a lot of nonpartisans that are frustrated by the chaos in Washington and they're frustrated by how people are being treated. So, I'm not going to Washington I'm not running for Congress to be a representative to just push on some political agenda. I'm running based on the issues that I know really matter to the people here and in Nevada's Fourth District.”
Is impeachment something you would consider if the president is found to have broken the law?
I think the last part of that is a key element. If he is found to have broken the law. We need to allow [Special Counsel Robert] Muller to complete his investigation. That report needs to be brought forward to Congress and there needs to be full transparency and complete openness of what the findings are of that report and let the facts speak for themselves.”
Horsford said some of the president’s actions and behaviors call into question his fitness, but he believes Robert Muller should be allowed to continue to investigate any possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.
Our federal debt is growing at an enormous rate. Many economists say it's growing faster because of the huge tax cuts approved by Congress. Republicans say no problem the economic growth will increase tax revenues and the debt will go away. What do you think?
“I think that's fool's gold. We tried that before and it simply didn't work. And it really is pretty hypocritical to see a party that has stood for fiscal responsibility being hijacked in the way that it has by Donald Trump and those in Congress right now. Eighty-three percent of the benefits from the tax breaks that were just passed benefit 1 percent of the population. It does very little to help individuals in the middle class. It does very little to help small businesses and entrepreneurs people who want to start up their own business. Those are the people who are the engines of our economy. Here in Nevada, 70 percent of our economy is based on small businesses and a growing percentage of them are women-owned businesses and particularly minority-women-owned businesses that are starting up at record paces.”
He said tax policy needs to focus on the middle class, small businesses, entrepreneurs that drive the economy.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who partly grew up in Las Vegas, has said the tax cuts will require cutting Social Security to pay for them. If a study came to you that said Social Security should be cut to pay for that. Would you vote for it?
“I'm against any effort to cut benefits from Social Security. Why? Because there are people in my district, seniors who are getting on average $1,000 a month. They've paid into the Social Security fund their entire life and now they are taking what they are entitled to to live on, while their housing goes up, while the cost of prescription drugs goes up, while the cost of utilities goes up. The only thing that hasn't gone up for them is that Social Security benefit.”
He said it is “an affront on the American people” for Republicans to pass a tax break that mostly benefits the wealthy and big corporations while considering cutting Medicare, Social Security and other social services programs to pay tax breaks.
Student loan debt is at an all-time high. Economists say the debt hurts the country because those graduates then don't have money to pay for cars homes other things. Do you have any proposals to ease student loan debt or should it be eased?
“Yes, it should and I think we need to start by getting rid of Secretary Davos, who has led the effort to repeal many of the protections that were adopted in the prior administration to begin to control student debt. You're absolutely right I think the last study I saw was $1.5 trillion of student loan debt has been accumulated and it's actually now outpacing credit card debt in this country. Students who are going into school to improve themselves and to prepare for a career should not have to go in to debt to do it. Now in the short term again we need to have an administration that can be checked, so that these predatory lenders, these for-profit universities that are gouging students that those practices aren't allowed.”
Horsford said besides addressing the problem for those already in debt the country needs “more big ideas” to address the problem going forward. One of the big ideas he has is loan forgiveness. As an example, he said people in healthcare should be allowed to pay off their debt by serving underserved areas like rural Nevada.
In Nevada, after the October 1 shooting it killed 58 people and injured some 800 more. What are some things you would like to see and also what would you not support?
“So, this is personal to me. My father was murdered because of gun violence when I was 19 years old. I've seen the effect that gun violence has on a family and to a community. There are a lot of other families that have been impacted, including those of the 58 that you mentioned. I'm proud to have the backing of organizations such as Moms Demand Action as well as the Gabby Giffords Courage Organization…as well as working with students from March for Our Lives and the Brady Campaign. They support me because of my comprehensive approach to gun safety legislation. First and foremost, we need background checks - universal background checks - it was something that the voters in Nevada approved. Unfortunately, Attorney General Laxalt has blocked that from going into effect. Secondly, we need to eliminate the bumps stocks. That's what was used in that 1 October tragedy. Had he not had access to that fewer people would have been killed or injured. We need to restore the assault weapons ban. As well as, close the gun show loophole that allows private parties to sell weapons without having to go through the background check. But beyond the gun legislation, we also need to address mental health care in this country. We need the federal government to be partners with state and local agencies to improve access and funding to mental health services and to address anti-bullying initiatives in our schools. So, I believe there needs to be a comprehensive approach.”
Horsford said it will take more than one approach to solve this problem. He said the country needs to elect people who have the courage to do what’s right and not “kowtow to the National Rifle Association or their gun lobby.” He said Congress can pass comprehensive gun safety legislation and protect the Second Amendment.
So, what do you think is the biggest obstacle to passing gun reform legislation?
“People who are law-abiding gun owners want to have gun safety. They want to ensure that their weapons are locked up. I have three kids if my child is going over to someone's house and that person has a gun. I want to know that that family member has that gun locked up that's gun safety. We want to ensure that background checks are in are in place. Why? In order to keep people with mental illness, domestic violence abusers and others from being able to have guns. I do not believe this needs to be a partisan issue. We need to come together to solve this problem because ultimately, it's about the safety of our children and our communities.”
Last July, Nevada opened its doors to the sale of recreational marijuana in the state. Many consider it successful so far; however, it is still illegal at a federal level will you defend Nevada's marijuana economy?
“Yes, I will. I'm on record both here at the state level and at the federal level because this is a legal industry that's been approved by the people here in Nevada and in other states. And we need the federal government to recognize it. We need to address the banking issue because right now most of what's done is done on a cash basis because they cannot be banked.”
Horsford said that the issue corresponds to the opioid addiction crisis. He said the country needs to explore alternatives to help people get the care they need but also avoid addiction to harmful medications that cause greater harm.
Give me your elevator pitch why should people vote for you to represent them in Washington?
Because I will be a representative that can provide a check on this administration. More importantly, I will fight for the issues that people in Nevada's 4th have talked to us about fighting for. That includes lowering the cost of prescription drug medications, making sure that health care is a right and not a privilege. I am running to improve our economy and an economy that works for all of us, creating good paying jobs with wages that are growing by increasing vocational training and skills development so that we can move people into new sectors of the economy that are growing here in southern Nevada. I also want to address the gun safety issue and to have the courage to actually act on that. And ultimately, we need to protect Medicare and Social Security so that those of us who've paid into it in current generations that are benefiting from it have the security to know that it will be there now and in future generations
Steve Horsford, candidate, Congressional District 4
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