September 24, 2020

Cortez Masto Prompts Secretary Mnuchin to Commit to Bipartisan Comprehensive COVID-19 Relief

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CCM Banking Hearing

Washington, D.C. – Today, during a Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs legislative hearing on the “Quarterly CARES Act Report to Congress,” U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) questioned Department of the Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin on targeted relief aid for Nevada’s tourism and hospitality industry and the need for a comprehensive package to provide relief to families, businesses and state and local governments as COVID-19 continues to severely affect Nevada’s working families and economy.

During her questioning, Senator Cortez Masto said, “In April, almost 8 million jobs in the leisure and hospitality sector were lost, I know you both know that. Workers in the leisure and hospitality industry experienced a peak decline in employment of more than 52%. Nevada’s economy has cratered as tourism and travel stopped. Nevada’s unemployment rate is more than 13%. More than 300,000 people continue to claim unemployment insurance… In Las Vegas and Reno, employment in our hospitality and leisure sector is down by nearly 25% [and 14%, respectively], the most among all sectors.”

In reference to Secretary Mnuchin’s comments on the need for more targeted relief through the Payment Protection Program (PPP), Senator Cortez Masto pressed Secretary Mnuchin to explain what that would look like for the leisure and hospitality industry. 

Senator Cortez Masto responded, “My concern is a comment that you made earlier that some sort of relief is better than nothing. I’m not about picking winners and losers and I think that comment is, unfortunately. I don’t see how you can identify an individual or business that gets relief when some don’t.” 

In an exchange with Secretary Mnuchin on the partisan roadblocks to comprehensive relief, Senator Cortez said the following:

“Listen, Secretary Mnuchin, I can debate this with you all day but the public doesn’t care right now. The American public wants some relief. And you can talk about Democrats, you can talk about Republicans. Look, we can also talk about the fact that the Republicans instead of negotiating with the Democrats in the Senate—behind closed doors—put together a skinny package, threw it on the floor of the Senate without even going through committee without even any negotiation. And in Mitch McConnell’s owns words there’s twenty of his members who don’t want to do anything. We can debate that all day long but that doesn’t get us to where we need to be. Which is too many people across this country are suffering, and right now requires us to come together and do a comprehensive package. That’s all I’m looking from you is your commitment. You’ve done it before, you did it four times before. And I just need a commitment that you’re still there to do a comprehensive package with everyone.”

“Yes, you have my commitment,” said Secretary Mnuchin.

Video of the full exchange is available here.