Washington, D.C. – During a hearing of the Senate Banking Committee, U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) asked Chairman of the Federal Reserve Jerome Powell to speak to the challenges Nevada’s tourism and hospitality industries are facing in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. In her questioning, Senator Cortez Masto also highlighted the importance of funding state and local government efforts to keep Nevadans safe as the economy re-opens.
Senator Cortez Masto began her questioning by asking Chairman Powell to speak to the unique challenges the hospitality and tourism sectors are currently facing, stating that “some of the sectors, airlines and hospitality are in [a] rough financial state. Because I come from Nevada and it is a hospitality-generated state, I know hospitality is where we get most of our revenue.”
Chairman Powell responded, “Sectors of the economy like that, where the business model is to gather people in one place and the goal is to entertain them, feed them, fly them around, whatever you are going to do, those are sectors where it will take some time for the public to return. That will happen, but it will take some time for the public to regain confidence and adapt to the new world and start traveling, taking vacations, going to restaurants.”
Senator Cortez Masto then asked about what Congress can do to help to ensure that consumers and visitors to Nevada feel confident patronizing businesses as the economy re-opens and what role health care providers can play in ensuring consumer safety.
“The number one thing is people believing that it is safe to go back to work, and that is about having a sensible, thoughtful re-opening of the country – something we all want,” responded Chairman Powell, adding that re-opening will require “a combination of getting the virus under control, development of therapeutics, development of a vaccine.”
Senator Cortez Masto ended her questioning by stating that “many [consumers] are also waiting on their state and local governments to weigh in and help them make those determinations and set those guidelines [about when it is safe to reopen]. That is why funding for our state and local governments is so important. I cannot stress that enough, not only for the next fiscal package that needs to come into state and local governments, but also for the Municipal Lending Facility. I would like to see more of that available to smaller populated states and local governments. Nevada has a 3 million [person] population; there has to be a way to also give them the opportunity to get the liquidity and the funds they need to provide that safety net to consumers.”
Full video of this exchange is available here.
Senator Cortez Masto has advocated for Congress to provide additional support for the gaming, hospitality, travel and outdoor recreation industries. She sent a letter, along with the entire Nevada Congressional Delegation, asking that any legislation to address the economic impact of this crisis also provide relief for Nevada’s travel and tourism industries. Senators Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen also helped secure the reversal of a Small Business Administration (SBA) rule that previously barred small gaming businesses from participating in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
In addition, Senator Cortez Masto urged the Trump Administration to revise initial restrictions on how governors can distribute Coronavirus Relief Funds to their states so that they can provide essential public services amidst the COVID-19 global pandemic, as the law intends.