Democrat Dina Titus will face the same challenger, Republican Joyce Bentley, in her congressional race this year.
Congressional District 1 is historically a Democratic stronghold, and it includes most of the Las Vegas Valley—and many of the state’s biggest job creators, like the Strip.
But with covid-19 impacting tourism, jobs are only about half of what they were. And with Nevada being about the hardest hit in the country, federal aid is desperately needed.
So who is best suited to get that aid to Nevada?
Is there anything you can do to help Nevada weather the rest of this storm?
We’re pressuring the Republicans in the Senate to take action, but they’re getting no direction from this president who one day wants to make a deal, one day doesn’t, another day wants some kind of piecemeal solution.
We’re trying to get them to pass the Heroes 2.0 [act]. We’ve passed two substantive bills that will help us to have a sustained recovery after the CARES Act, which was the immediate recovery bill that passed bipartisan.
So, hopefully, they’re hearing from their constituents, too, because its people in Democratic and Republican states that need help, and they’re also hearing from Democratic and Republican governors and mayors who need assistance with funding for frontline workers. This shouldn’t be partisan.
Would a piecemeal relief package help Nevada?
You know that when the economy is hurting, we are hurting worse because we depend so much on tourism and hospitality and service jobs.
Right now, our unemployment is about twice the national average and still one of the highest in the country. We know you can not bring back the economy until you cure the virus. People have to have a little money in their pocket to want to go on holiday, but they also have to feel like they’re going to be safe in order to relax and have a good time.
We definitely need to get a handle on the virus, which again, we’re getting absolutely no direction from the federal government. You’ve got a president who intimidates doctors, who goes out and says he’s immune, he rips off his mask and encourages people to come to rallies. That is certainly is not listening to the science, and that’s not the way we’re going to get out of this.
I think our governor, who has had to make some very hard decisions, has done a good job of closing things down, and that was my district that was so closed down - so many people out of work, but [he's] bringing it back gradually so we can try to level off the numbers and make a recovery.
If the Senate flips to a Democratic majority, how might that change things?
All the poll numbers are looking good for Democrats, but we’re not taking anything for granted.
Here in Nevada, we’re working hard for every vote for the Democrats.
If you have a Democratic Senate, it will be a lot easier to get things through than it is now when [Mitch] McConnell has bragged about the Senate being the funeral home for legislation that comes out of the House.
Will the country be in so much debt that large relief packages from the federal government won’t be reasonable anymore?
The Republicans like to talk about the deficit when we’re spending money to help working families, but they don’t seem too concerned about it when they do massive tax cuts for the very wealthy.
But, if you listen to the head of the Federal Reserve Board, who is certainly no liberal, he said now is the time you need to invest more, not less, in order to get this economy back up and running - and once it is up and running and creating jobs again, that will take care of some of that problem.
Is there anything you and the House can do to make sure people don’t lose their health insurance if the Supreme Court rules against the Affordable Care Act?
I was the only member of the current delegation who voted for the Affordable Care Act and it was one of the most important bills I could have supported because Nevada has always been in the top three for the number of people who are uninsured and that’s because a lot of people work several part-time jobs without benefits. They’re in service jobs. They’re transient.
So, this was incredibly helpful for Nevadans – expansion of Medicaid, keeping people on their parent’s policies until they turn 26, pre-existing conditions, which is the most important thing that people worry about, especially now with COVID because you will have a pre-existing condition if you get this virus.
I think if the president is trying to ram and jam this new Supreme Court justice in time to make a decision on the case that considers the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, which comes on the docket exactly one week after the election.
[Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett] has said she doesn’t support it and thinks it's unconstitutional. But it is on the ballot this time. Health care was critical in 2018 when the Democrats took the House and is certainly critical this time. Probably, that’s the one thing that people care the most about. To get rid of a health care plan at a time when you’re in the middle of a pandemic makes absolutely no sense
And the Republicans keep saying, ‘We’re going to get rid of it.’ I voted over 60 times against that. They’ve never come with another solution.
We need to do all we can to keep that in place for Nevadans.
On concerns about the election going smoothly:
A lot of my concerns have been allayed. Remember we have a Republican Secretary of State. We did this in the primary. There were no problems of fraud. It worked perfectly legitimately. A lot of states do mail-in ballots. Been doing it for years. You see it in Utah, Oregon, Washington State. So, I’m confident it is going to work fine.
You have many options. You can either mail it in. You can drop it off. You can vote early in person or you can vote on Election Day. We have a number of sites for Election Day. So that should take care of the backup and long lines.
I’m confident that Nevada can pull this off without any problems. That’s just a scare tactic from this administration because they know they can’t win if you count the votes, and they’re trying to intimidate people from voting by saying it’s not going to count or it's going to be fraudulent. That is just not true.
How will a Joe Biden presidency benefit Nevada?
One thing I know about Joe Biden is he looked me in the eye and said, "Nevada will never be a nuclear waste dump." That gives me some comfort in knowing our fight against Yucca Mountain will have somebody in the White House who is on our side.
Also, he wants to put a coalition together of all kinds of working families and different minorities, and my district is the most ethnically diverse in the state, and immigration is a huge issue both in the Asian community and the Hispanic [community], and he will move forward on that and support Dreamers.
And the health insurance, expanding Obamacare - I think he’ll be helpful to Nevada in a number of ways.
What would you like to be heard by a Democratic-majority Senate – if that happens?
I think it will be transportation. I’m on that committee and it’s so important to Nevada. We don’t make anything here, I say, except dreams come true. We have to import everything. If we have a vibrant airport, I-11 from here to Phoenix, possibly a speed train to California, that will create jobs as they’re built and it will also help us bring in tourists and bring in products and bring in business.
We had an infrastructure bill that the House has passed. It’s the Moving Forward bill. It’s not going anywhere in the Senate, but our chairman has been talking to the Biden administration and transition team and this is one they’re going to address early.
And infrastructure shouldn’t be partisan, it’s not ideology. Everybody wants bridges and roads and sewer systems in their district.
Given the state of the economy currently, would you support a bump in the minimum wage?
What you pay people puts money in their pocket and allows them to return that money into the economy.
What we need to focus on is those people who are unemployed to be sure that they get those additional federal benefits that we put in the CARES package and that we want to extend to the end of the year.
And also, there are a number of programs that we gave loans that became grants to small businesses to help them stay up and running or get back running.
One of the things I did was push to have that include small gaming facilities and also our small entertainment venues, which didn’t fit neatly into one of the other models.
Let’s work on bringing all the ships up with the rising tide.
Rep. Dina Titus, D-NV., Congressional District 1
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