Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, we've been hearing from members of Nevada's congressional delegation.
They've told us about what they're doing to support Nevadans from Washington – and what they think Congress should be doing to save lives and prop up the economy.
COVID-19 is hitting higher-density cities like Las Vegas and Reno much more than rural areas.
But rural Nevada isn’t immune. Those residents are spread far and wide, and Mark Amodei represents most of them in Congress.
When it comes to the federal response, Amodei has a critical eye.
"I watch what Washington does and pay very little attention to what Washington says," he said. "Quite frankly, I don't need sayin', I need doin' right now."
He said Nevadans need to use common sense to do the right thing for their families, friends and businesses, during the pandemic. However, Amodei is not in favor of opening the economy right away. He thinks it is going to be a slow process.
“I think the next two years is going to be one of slowly rebuilding things back to where we get to the point where we’re somewhere in the neighborhood and we can basically, hopefully, learn most of the lessons from this, strengthen ourselves against repeat instances,” he said.
While some vocal protesters and Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman have come out against the stay-at-home order, the congressman believes Gov. Steve Sisolak did the right thing.
“May not have been popular, but I think quite frankly, the governor was right in terms of saying, ‘Okay, we’re shutting down. We’re doing all the stuff we can because we basically don’t want to get to the point where we’re out of ventilators, we’re out of space, we’re out of all of those other sorts of things.' And guess what, the numbers so far have proven that out,” he said.
As for the governor's plan to watch for two weeks of the rate of infections going down before he'll start loosening some of the more restrictive controls, Amodei believes as long as the numbers the governor is looking at are in context with other factors then it's fine.
But even after things reopen, Amodei believes American's way of life will change just like it did after 9/11. And even after a vaccine for the virus is discovered, he wonders how many people will be willing to go to sporting events and other gatherings with strangers.
Congress has spent billions trying to keep people afloat during the pandemic with relief packages for individuals and businesses; however, that has left the country with a ballooning deficit.
Fixing that problem will be a large task for the House and Senate but Amodei said now is not the time to start the major restructuring of the federal budget.
“I think just trying to stabilize the ship is probably good work for the immediate near future on this,” he said.
Amodei said there is a lot of talk in Washington about reparations and China. The virus was first discovered in Wuhan, China but he admits not enough is known about its origins and spread yet. Plus, any reparations or wiping away of debts the U.S. owes China won't solve the federal budget problems.
Now, lawmakers are working on a fourth piece of legislation with more relief funding and $25 billion to ramp up testing, Amodei said. It is that testing that could make the difference for reopening the economy safely.
“You can’t keep [the tax base] shut down but you can’t ignore the medical reality,” he said.
Rep. Mark Amodei, R-NV
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