WASHINGTON – The $ 1.9 trillion stimulus package presented to the House of Representatives includes $ 4.5 billion for the state of Nevada, its counties and cities, as well as funds for schools, public transportation and McCarran International Airport, officials announced on Tuesday.
The bill cleared a critical hurdle on Tuesday when the House of Representatives voted 219-210, mostly along party lines, to start the debate. The final passage and President Joe Biden’s signature are expected on Wednesday.
The stroke of luck of aid to Nevada was lauded by Democrats in the delegation, who worked to change formulas to raise more funds to the state due to the high number of unemployed due to tourism and hospitality shutdowns.
Budget deficits have led state and local governments to seek government assistance to avoid layoffs and cuts in public services.
“This funding will be a lifeline for Nevada’s state and local governments, whose budgets have been destroyed by the coronavirus pandemic, and will keep educators, health workers and first responders on the job,” said Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev.
The bill was passed in the Senate last week with a 50-49 vote.
‘Stoked’ from the bill
Nevada MPs Dina Titus, Steven Horsford and Susie Lee, all Democrats, were instrumental in drafting the original bill, which provides money for schools, food, money for local governments, and other programs.
âI’m thrilled,â said Horsford.
Titus led efforts to change the formula for distributing $ 350 billion in aid to states and cities. The change requires the federal government to take into account the unemployment rate of a federal state when allocating the funds.
Of the government funding, the Nevada state government would receive $ 2.9 billion, Clark County would receive $ 439 million, and Las Vegas would receive $ 130 million. There are funds for other counties and cities in Nevada, including Henderson and North Las Vegas.
“Nevada has the second highest unemployment rate in the country, and yet previous federal relief efforts have treated our state the same as others,” said Titus.
She said she worked with the office of House Spokeswoman Nancy Pelosis to ensure that federal funds would be distributed in part based on local unemployment rates.
“The bill will give Nevada and Clark County the flexibility we need to expedite vaccine distribution, keep the frontline workers on payroll, and get our economy back on track,” said Titus. “Nevada is finally getting its fair share.”
Lee said the funds would help the state with Medicaid, unemployment, childcare, housing, and more.
She is working on another bill to increase Medicaid funding that would help states provide medical and health care to those most in need. This bill will likely be added to another recovery bill later in the year.
Final vote Wednesday
The House of Representatives is expected to pass the revised American bailout plan on Wednesday.
President Joe Biden has urged Congress to send the bill to him as soon as possible. It is the first major law passed since Biden was sworn in on January 20th.
Republicans agree in their opposition to the massive stimulus package because of its high price and signs that the economy is recovering after a year of restrictions and earlier stimulus laws.
The GOP estimates the bailout before Congress would now create $ 4.1 trillion in new debt and spend money on projects that include $ 166 million for a scenic Amtrak route through Montana, Oregon and Washington. The bill also expands the Affordable Care Act.
Rep. Mark Amodei, the only Republican in the Nevada delegation, voted against the first House bill, saying it contained too many items to advance “political agendas”. He said he was not against funding schools and vaccines.
GOP lawmakers turned down the $ 350 billion for states and cities, saying the lack of accountability could allow the funds to be used to rescue ill-managed public sector retirement accounts.
Education spending popular
On either side of the aisle, there was little resistance to federal aid to get the schools up and running.
Biden applied for federal funding to modify schools, prepare them for opening, and create a safe environment for students. Clark County would see about $ 835 million in funding.
The bill improves nutrition programs that give lower-income families more money to buy groceries and support for mortgages and rent.
Transport projects and improvements are also addressed. McCarran International Airport would receive approximately $ 171 million and the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada would receive $ 130 million.
Titus was also instrumental in raising approximately $ 450 million in grants to communities suffering economic hardship due to tourism and restaurant closings. Cortez Masto and Rosen said the Senate increased that amount to $ 750 million, which will be distributed by the Economic Development Administration.
Cities in Nevada would be eligible to apply for these grants.
Cortez Masto also worked to change government subsidies for COBRA health care for workers on leave and laid off. The federal government pays 100 percent of the grant instead of 85 percent.
This change was welcomed by Geoconda Arguello-Kline, secretary and treasurer of the Culinary Workers Union Local 226, whose workers were hit hard by casino and hotel closings and cuts during the pandemic.
“It has been very difficult for workers and their families,” Arguello-Kline told reporters in Nevada about the economic burden of unemployed workers to pay COBRA subsidies to maintain health insurance.
Mario Sandoval, who was fired from his downtown Binion job, said the economic downturn hit him hard and forced him to rely on his family for help.
“I get unemployment benefits, but that’s not enough,” said Sandoval. “We need this health insurance.”
Many Nevadans also receive direct payments from the federal government of $ 1,400 if they earn less than $ 75,000 per year, or $ 2,800 per couple.
Federal unemployment benefits, which expire later this week at $ 300 a week, would be extended through fall, a language Horsford spearheaded through the House Ways and Means Committee.
Horsford also co-sponsored Language to increase the child tax credit from $ 2,000 annually to $ 3,600 per child.
“This is a turning point in my district,” said Horsford, whose congressional borders include the boroughs of North Las Vegas, Nye and Lincoln. “It will help lift people out of poverty.”
Nevada is one of the states with the highest unemployment. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment in Las Vegas was 9.2 percent in December, just behind Hawaii.
Congress also added small business loans to keep business open as entrepreneurs struggle to survive the economic downturn and avoid layoffs.
The bill also includes funds to ramp up vaccine production and distribute them nationwide as Biden pushes his goal of 100 million vaccinations in his first 100 days in office.
Contact Gary Martin at [email protected] Follow @gmartindc on Twitter.