Wednesday March 25th, 2020

Cortez Masto: Coronavirus Relief Package an Investment in Nevada’s Economy and Health Care System

Cortez Masto Coronavirus Relief Floor

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) spoke on the Senate floor tonight to discuss the work she is doing to protect the health, safety and economic wellbeing of Nevada’s workers, businesses and families during the coronavirus pandemic. In her remarks, the Senator highlighted the perseverance of Nevadans during this crisis, commemorated the lives of the six Nevadans who lost their lives, expressed her hopes for the continued health of the over 300 Nevadans who have tested positive for COVID-19 and acknowledged that the Silver State will come out of this crisis even stronger.

Below are her remarks as prepared for delivery. You may download video of the speech HERE.

I rise today to let all Nevadans know the important steps Congress is taking to respond to the pandemic we are facing.

The novel coronavirus presents a global challenge to the health and economic security of Nevada and the United States.

My thoughts today are with those in Nevada who are ill or suffering with the virus and with the families of the six Nevadans who have died because of this disease.

I also want to thank the brave men and women on the front lines of this crisis: the first responders and health care workers who are battling to save lives, putting their own health and the health of their families at risk.

I know there is a lot of fear and confusion in our communities right now. Please know this: I am working closely with Governor Sisolak and the Nevada delegation to ensure that our State gets the resources it needs to stem the spread of the coronavirus, treat those who need medical attention, and address the needs of struggling families and businesses. 

I also know that we are Nevada Strong. I’ve seen over and over again that when things get difficult, Nevadans come together.

When a gunman attacked the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas, I saw how Nevadans from all over the state worked heroically to help victims and support families. 

Nevadans are uniting now, too. I’m proud to say that across the Silver State, people are doing their part to reduce the impact of COVID-19.

Our governor, Steve Sisolak, has shown tremendous leadership in working to slow the spread of the coronavirus. As Governor Sisolak has pointed out, if ‘Home Means Nevada,’ we need everyone who can to ‘stay home for Nevada’.

Nurses, doctors, and other health officials are working tirelessly to care for the sick and to increase our capacity to deal with cases in the future.

First responders, local health authorities, sanitation workers and retail workers are on the job around the clock to make sure that essential services are available to Nevadans.

Our gaming, entertainment, and hospitality industry leaders took unprecedented steps to stop the spread of infection, including by closing their doors.

And so many Nevadans are contributing by working from home when they can, caring for school-aged children, volunteering to help make masks or buy groceries for elderly neighbors, and avoiding social interactions that could spread coronavirus.

Everyone—every single Nevadan, each and every American—has a role to play in this crisis. We need everyone to do their part by following the advice of experts and taking practical, commonsense steps, like washing hands and practicing social distancing. 

And my colleagues and I in Congress have done our part as well. The Senate has come together in a remarkable and bipartisan fashion to act on three bills to address key health care priorities and to protect workers and industry from the economic impacts of this public health crisis.

Earlier in March, we set aside $8.3 billion dollars to support hospitals, community health centers, public health offices, medical suppliers, and researchers across the country.

Next, we passed the bipartisan Families First Coronavirus Response Act to provide free coronavirus testing, expand food assistance, and mandate paid sick and family leave for workers.

I’m proud to have fought alongside my colleagues in Nevada’s Congressional delegation – including Senator Jacky Rosen – to produce today’s third relief bill.

It’s quite simply the greatest single investment in our economy and health care system in modern American history.

And we need it. In 2007, our state was hit hard by the recession. Through tremendous effort, we came through it, but our economic recovery was slow.

This time, we want to make sure our economy springs back quickly after this crisis has passed, and that workers have good jobs to return to when it does. That’s why we’re passing these far-reaching measures to provide immediate relief to individuals, families and businesses suffering from the economic impacts of this pandemic.

Nevada has an economy that’s unique in the nation. Our hospitality industry generates nearly $68 billion annually and supports more than 450,000 jobs across the state. So I have been focused on standing up for our gaming, tourism and hospitality workers.

I also wanted to make sure that when we offered relief to big companies, there was oversight, transparency, accountability, and worker protections in place. This bill does that. 

I’m grateful to the many small businesses in my state, who have taken the hard but necessary action and closed their doors or reduced their services at this critical time.

This bill supports them as well, by providing forgivable loans and grants so they can open their doors again as soon as it is safe for them to do so.

Most of all, I wanted to make sure we supported Nevada’s workers and their families, the hardworking people our industries employ.

That’s why I worked with my Senate colleagues to ensure that key protections for Nevadans and all Americans were included in this relief package.

We fought to expand unemployment assistance so that it includes part-time, self-employed, and seasonal and gig economy workers that make up a key part of our labor force in the Silver State.

Whether you’re a dish washer at a hotel on the Strip or hair stylist in Carson City, you’ll be eligible for up to four months of unemployment benefits and an additional $600 a week.

And we locked down direct payments of $1,200 for each adult and $500 for each child, up to a certain income level, so our hardworking families have money in their pockets to recover from this pandemic.

We successfully pushed to shore up our hospitals and our health care infrastructure, to get them more money for protective gear, supplies, and tests so they can provide patients the best possible care.

We made sure that we included $150 billion in support for local, state, and tribal governments, which are bearing the brunt of costs for local health care systems.

I know this is a difficult time for everyone. But we’re going to get through this, just as we have persevered before. And we’ll do it by rallying to help one another, as Nevadans always do.

There will be many moments of challenge ahead, and each of us has a responsibility to answer those challenges. Let’s listen to the experts. Let’s take care of one another. And let’s be kind and understanding of what we’re all going through.

But let’s not lose sight of the beauty of our everyday lives, that familiar rhythm we’re all eager to restore.

In Nevada and across the country, we will be back at our workplaces again, solving our everyday problems. Our children will be back at school, learning for themselves how to make the world a better place.

And yes, we’ll begin the long task of grieving those we have lost, but we’ll also be celebrating marriages again, and marking births with a newfound joy.

We will get through this together. And I promise everyone in the Silver State that I will be fighting in the Senate to make sure we rebound from this stronger than before so that Nevadans can get back to work.



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