A conversation with U.S. Rep. Dina Titus
In Matt District. You've got the airport. The University of the major hospitals the Strip the arts district downtown so many people who are yet by s because everything is shutdown. That was the decision and the governor made. Mangku was the ride one from the Las Vegas Review Journal. This is RJ POLITICS. Hello and welcome to RJ politics. Las Vegas Review Journal's weekly political podcast. I'm politics reporter Rory Appleton. I'm politics and government editor Steve Sabella. And today we're very happy to be joined by the congresswoman for Nevada's first district Dina Titus. Thanks so much for being with us. Thank you for having we wanted to. Just jump right into. We've been talking about on the last few podcasts. The stimulus packages that have gone through Congress. In order to assist with a corona virus pandemic. And you know very recently. There was a third package that went through. Can you talk about that? You know what are some of the things that you know that you got in there? What are some of the things that are that have been able to help vats yes? It's very important. The three packages altogether address healthcare small birds and workers the package that came out right before we adjourn was very different from the version. Republican Senate put forth. That was very much corporate down. We worked hard to revise that and make it worker up And that's what happened. This is was passed with workers in their families in mind You know in my district you got the airport university. The major hospitals the Strip Arts district downtown so many people who are hit by this because everything is shutdown. That was a tough decision that the governor made but I think it was the right one but as a result you've got about I don't know three hundred twenty thousand jobs that are being eliminated because of this pandemic and that equals one point. Three billion dollars in wages every month so that was the emphasis of this particular. Bill is addressing their condition on the Sharon and then be insured. They have a job to come back to when this is over and congresswoman. Are there any plans to do any any further bills oil? There certainly are talking right now. We have two or three is conference calls a day with a coffin about what will be in the fourth bill and that bill will be more about long term recovery it will have things in like infrastructure in terms of highways and transportation but also water projects and Internet for like a rural areas Telemedicine because they don't have access to Internet and there will be additional funding for the state local stabilization. Because you're gonNA find those governments will be hit very hard when there's no tax revenue coming in as a result of all these closures congresswoman. I noticed that That the Senate Majority Leader Mitch. Mcconnell has said that he thinks speaker ought to Hang back and not do a fourth package. I assume his worried. There is getting the votes in his pocket and then maybe even having his Dhaka's half goat for a another package that That could cost them In the elections. What was your reaction to his comments on that well. Eighty didn't want a lot of the provisions that we've done so far including an expansion of food stamps and things like meals on wheels three square to help individuals. He was all about helping Wall Street. He has said he doesn't want to do that. Your icy but one place where he's different from the president and they're using lay in lots is the president has said this might be an opportunity to look once again at infrastructure. Interesting so so What do you think is going to happen? I mean he Certainly if the house passes a bill he could ignore it he could Continue to to process it or not. I would be very hard to ignore at this point. The given the the needs we just saw today. That record unemployment In all the states Reporting initial unemployment claims higher than anything in history. I think it'd be hard to ignore like. He's ignored a many other bills. That have been passed by the House. So you think Speaker Pelosi is going to go with a fourth. Bill hadn't sure she's going to go with the now or never underestimate her negotiating skill. He has ignored a lot in fact. He's bragged about being the funeral home of legislation that are mortuary legislation. I think he called himself. But Dr discontinues leads numbers. Continue to rise. You're right he is going to have a hard time ignoring it but you also heard him site. While we're just GONNA go back to approving judges that seems to be only thing he cares about but I think that will come back to haunt him in the elections in the fall. Where you've got some pretty vulnerable senators. Who are GONNA WANNA do all? They can for their districts It seems to me that That you know you've got two schools of thought in the caucus in the Senate where all of these things have to go in that. Is that one You know pass the relief and worry about the deficits and everything else later. The other sort of the Rand Paul wing of Don't do anything don't don't act yet And and let things kind of play out He's got a mitigate between those two Sides are but You know I know the in the in the House of the saying is that the Republicans are the opposition. But the Senate is the enemy Yet do you Do you anticipate that if The House takes up package Assume as you say that Speaker Pelosi is going to keep her gakuen. Keep the votes Do think that whatever is past is going to have a chance in the Senate or or politics than sort of reasserted south because I think in the the the packages that have been passed so far the need has been so obvious and so great that really ignoring the packages wasn't an option. Is that going to be an option in the future or do you think this is going to go through in in whatever form it ends up going through well? It probably won't be anything that the Democrats wrong neither of the They are the three bills that we still have more to work on. But I think something will have to be passed you know. It's not just the two factions within the Senate. He's hearing from Republican governors to. Who ARE DESPERATE FOR HELP. And also who knows what the president's GonNa Date Today? He's offer infrastructure next week. It may be something else. So there are a lot of forces at work on McConnell including his own re-election so congressman e you mentioned the Strip and all of the sort of tourist destination they that you represent within your district and really I mean. The tourism capital of the whole country sits very squarely in the first district We've heard from your office that you spent more than last month. You know trying to use your positions on various or committees. I should say and trying to express the real need for help in hospitality and tourism here in Nevada. Where it's it's not a situation where tourism is sort of icing on the cake. It is the driving industry for this area. So tell us a little bit about those conversations that you've had well you're so right about four hundred and fifty thousand jobs in Nevada dependent on traveling or is it is our Our oldest our coal miner automobile factory. This is the engine of the economy to a large extent. It's not just gaming. Things related like food shopping and entertainment. Allah reasons that people like to come here but every place in the country has something he will. WanNa go see. It may not be. The Strip may be the world's largest baller trying but there's some part of their economy related to tourism at chair but the travel and Tourism Caucus and the gaming cock is I have a Republican counterpart in both instances. That hours able to that your physician jemaine gaming's be part of hope. Tourism argument in previous recovery packages like after Katrina Gaming was specifically carved out. We didn't want to see that happen because so many jobs depend on our resort casinos so we were able to keep it all tied together and not have gaming carved out we got a number of provisions in the bill that will help the big gaining companies as well as the smaller ones. That were very proud off again. Their aim towards helping the workers in those casinos not carpet executives. We won't be able to be held now but we want them to have a job to go back to as I said earlier so we heard Just recently from the governor's office that it looks like you know Nevada sort of as we know it stands to be closed for at least the rest of the month. Maybe even longer. It's really sort of an unprecedented situation. Where you've had casinos and businesses and folks being ordered to stay in their homes in How do you think that Nevada's are are going to get through this? How I mean how. Can they rally past? Well we're very resilient immunity. We have seen that in times past in that. Thank we will see it again. People seem to be doing a good job of social distancing. We got rated a by some organization. Recently that tracks cell phone See How that have parkway people are So that that's working out but it's hard and it's GonNa be stressful in the bill. We put provisions in there so small businesses can get loans. That just really become grants if they use that money to keep people employed Or they use it to pay the rent or their mortgage or their utilities is about four hundred fifty billion dollars in loans for the big companies that have over five hundred employees. That again will is to be used for the employees to keep them on the payroll. Those companies will get employee retention tax credit. You can't give bonuses to CEO's me it's allergies can't do back so we're trying to cover the whole range of ways to keep people employed if they can. I were a longtime leader in the Nevada state Senate and now on the federal level. I know you see The effects that this is GonNa have this unprecedented situation really. We've never had even after September. Eleventh casinos closed all across the state Major source of a Nevada revenue Just essentially being turned off like a light and not being turned on again for a probably at least until the end of this month The state of Nevada is going to be in a bad way when casinos. Finally do reopen What what what helped has been passed? And do you think will be needed in the future as we go forward from your perspective not only as a member of work but also as a leader in the in the Nevada State Senate for about twenty years where you are so right. I think they're estimating at this point that will lose about a billion dollars in tax revenue. That's a big chunk of the state budget and so the next legislative session is GonNa be facing real short hauls also. Local governments now are already driving move around personnel interfacing Laos because of lack of revenue again no sales tax company in gaming tax. Coming in doubt. There's a lot happening in the property tax area. So it's GonNa be hard to make that up people in Nevada aren't GonNa want to be able to raise taxes. So where will it come from? In the second bill there was funding for state and Local Government Stabilization Funds. I think sites already gotten six to ten million dollars from that first round and we'll get some more but that's one of the areas that we need to put in the bill to say just has short states are in local governments and tribal governments. How much they need in how much we can. Shore them up with that stabilization. Finding your because that estimate that you just said is correct. That's that's about an eighth of the state budget. Are we think maybe we're up? Eight point seven billion dollars in the current general fund alone That's a huge hit. That is absolutely a huge hit and I imagine that other states are not immune as well. Is there GONNA be enough relief for state governments? You think in this process to make them if not whole at least help them deal with the with the downturn in revenues because otherwise you know. We're looking at Massive layoffs and state government. We're looking reductions in services and and Things such as education funding. Are we just say that liquid? What all the state funds it you may not think about Medicaid. That will be something. They'll have to finance education even some of the highway funding. So I'm not sure how much we will have to put in that fund to help states the difficulty is had will be distributed and we know that sometimes when things are distributed just based on population that ignores the millions of people who come here for tourism that we also have to take care of. So we're GONNA have to just be sure that Nevada when it competes for some of that money is able to yet share in. That'll be up to the delegation and working with the governor of course and legislative local leadership to try to ensure that your congressman I wanted to ask you had mentioned When talking about Mitch McConnell about the election and things like that. You were very outspoken. Surrogate for for Vice President Joe Biden. I think the last time that we interview for the show was mainly talking about that. You're campaigning for him in multiple states. You know now we've seen this. The presidential election and many elections in general sort of up ended by by the pandemic. Of course. I think I saw today. That the the The Party the Democratic. Party's moved back the convention. Ron almost mar a little bit more than a month. I guess now into August I I mean we have a terribly important election for the future of this country you know regardless of what side you're on with lots of local races state races federal races and of course the presidency. I mean. Do you think that that this pandemic has sort of up ended? The what's going on in terms of the Democrats really trying to make a push to win back the White House well. It certainly changed the dynamics of campaigning. You're right when we talked before. I was off to our on New Hampshire Virginia Arkansas. We were on the road riding with bad now. All of that. His switch to computer conversations Tele Jello conferences exciting that so as a real different Cana- campaigning and voting is so important. I mean that's the key to our democracy but we've got to reeducate about voting. You saw where the secretary of state and she and I talked about this late before. She made her announcement said that our primary is GonNa be all Malian. People have added. Don't like Malian. They don't use it because they've been able to do it for some time now without have to have an excuse for why. You needed absentee ballot. What people in Nevada lie is early voting? So now we've got the early gene to re educate them about how Mailing boating works in Adding get that message out. Then don't know what will happen next November if more states will be going to Malian or we'll be over this making do our traditional voting but there is money in the that blade. It was the second bill where you had the money for Helping states go to paper. Ballots are mailed in ballots. And I suspect if this continues that will be another thing it'll be in the fourth. Bill is additional resources to help with that and something else. That's ongoing. Also terribly important is the sense You know your your office the Office of your colleagues here in Nevada. Everyone's been pushing folks. You know it's very easy to do online if you're listening and you haven't filled out the census. I did mind like two days ago. It really and truly took five minutes online. It's nothing to do but is that also a concern for you and your colleagues as so much. Funding in various other things are decided through the census. Are you worried that folks have a lot on their plate or doing other things and they're not going to be filling out their senses? Well it certainly is. We have done a number of PSI's we're working with local ethnic and religious community organizations. There are a lot on the Internet about Fill out your senses. Everyone needs to be counted because everyone counts. There's a big push for that. In addition there is funding to help get information out and they have pushed back the deadline until August so that is an August a push the deadline back to August. So there's more time for people to to get this information in but what we're saying is if you're stuck at home tech a few minutes fill it out on the what will with respect to the Biden campaign. I was just wondering what you're thinking. I in terms of how things are going. I mean the The pandemic is really change and banning. I don't recall anything even remote Remotely similar to this happening. In past campaigns it's essentially stopped are gathering. Stop Doll rallies. Stopped all You know in person campaigning. On both sides The president has a daily a bully pulpit and is speaking Every day from the White House reaping room to people Vice President Biden has had that studio set up in his house. Looks a lot better than my home. Studio frankly And he sure looks a lot better on TV than I do. But is it enough? Is He doing enough? You think to to get out in front of the voters or remind them. Hey you know what just because we have this? This unprecedented situation there still is an election and there still is a choice to make and they're still are in need to be aware. Well it is harder it is different but I think the president daily press conference as a double edged sword. Every time he gets out there he can changes the story a lot of a lot of information there that can be used in ads where he's flip flopped on series. It is flip flopped on whether we got enough. Tgi testing is gone up on these tirades about the drug war. He's called himself a wartime president. more people the more they get to know him in the worst Louis. So I think that Joe Biden is doing allegheny is looking like a leader in a compassionate one in this time of crisis and offering real solutions of what he would be doing if he were president during this time unlike what trump is done. Which was the site was like the flu? And it'd be gone and it was a democratic plot to make him look at of that will come back yard and do you think that the I know that the Democratic National Committee has decided to own the Democratic convention from stayed in July back into August when the Republicans are also planning to do. There's do you think that aid. Those conventions will go off at that time as plan and be will reach the any kind of semblance of a normal campaign cycle in the latter part of this year And if not what implications does add does that have for voters and how they go about making their decision. Well as certainly August we're over. The worst of this may be a vaccine will have been developed and we know what we're dealing with so we can return a little bit to normal. The conventions are always just so much fun. So exciting in an opportunity to highlight. The candidate announced a vice-president. Let up and coming leaders speak is kind of like a PEP rally for both parties. That really kicks off the foul campaign season. 'cause you go from there into the Labor Day swing then you know? Then it's really a rushed to the finish so I hope we do get back to normal if not. I can't imagine having a virtual convention but with today's technology I guess we'll make it work and preparations are already in. May for the election if it has to be An all male election. But there'll be a lot of educating to do a lot of disappointed votes if they don't get the convention where those funny hats absolutely and we should also point out when the congresswoman says all male election she means election conducted exclusively by mail and nodding lecturing in which only males are allowed to participate. I've got a hunch would never let that happen on her watch as not inmate just wanted to clarify all right great. Well I guess that's probably all the time that we have this week and thank you so much for calling in and for joining us. I know it's a very very busy time congresswoman. Well thank you and like. Sa Remind people that are offices are open even though we're teleworking if they need any help unemployment or the small business loans are getting family members back and they can certainly call my office so as always We've new episodes of RJ politics every week. And you can find your hosts on twitter at at Roy phonics ads. Bilious I am Roy Appleton and thanks so much for listening.