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2020 ElectionCOVID-19HealthInsurrectionNevada LegislatureNews and informationThe Economy

Cortez Masto Lays Out Goals for Biden Presidency

stimulus, budget, Catherine Cortez Masto

With fewer than 20 hours left until President-elect Joe Biden takes office, U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D) spoke with local and national reporters about her hopes for Biden’s presidency and future Congressional action on COVID-19 and economic recovery. Though she voiced optimism for imminent action, she also expressed hope for renewed bipartisan cooperation once Donald Trump is out of office.

Or as Cortez Masto put it, “We want to find common ground. We have a Senate that is 50-50. We have to work together.”

So Democrats won their “trifecta”. Now what?
stimulus
Photo by Andrew Davey

Last July, Senator Catherine Cortez Masto fumed over Congressional Republican leaders’ intransigence on COVID-19 relief efforts. After describing then Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Kentucky) refusal to even hold hearings on the HEROES Act that the Democratic-run House passed last May, Cortez Masto noted, “So many people are still struggling. So many people need this stimulus package to pay their bills. This is a priority for them, and it should be a priority for him as well.”

Fast forward to now: President-elect Joe Biden takes office tomorrow, and Democrats will take the Senate majority as soon as Senators-elect Jon Ossoff (D-Georgia) and Raphael Warnock (D-Georgia) are seated. Now that Cortez Masto’s DSCC leadership has reaped the reward of a Democratic “trifecta” in 2021, how quickly will they move to right the wrongs of 2020?

Hot on the heels of Governor Steve Sisolak (D) proposing a new state budget for the next biennium that’s about $187 million below what was originally planned for the current biennium despite growing need and demand for the social safety net, Senator Cortez Masto spoke with local and national reporters about how she, her Congressional colleagues, and Biden will help Nevadans in need and guide America out of this existential crisis of great crises.

“There needs to be more relief coming into Nevada.” 
– U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, in support of Biden’s American Rescue Plan
Photo by Andrew Davey

On Biden’s American Rescue Plan, the Democratic 2021 reboot of last year’s HEROES Act, Cortez Masto said, “I am encouraged by President-elect Biden’s proposal. I am going to continue to advocate for our tribal governments and our tourism industry.” 

Cortez Masto then added that she’s spoken with Janet Yellen, Biden’s nominee for Treasury Secretary, that she’s also looking for additional support for Native American tribal communities and the gaming/tourism industry. And in response to Governor Steve Sisolak’s (D) call for additional federal relief alongside his new budget proposal, Cortez Masto concurred, “There needs to be more relief coming into Nevada.”

Bernie Sanders
Photo by Andrew Davey

However when asked about Biden’s call for “regular order” and a bipartisan vote of approval amidst Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and other top Democrats preparing a reconciliation bill that Democrats can pass on their own if Republicans continue to obstruct, Cortez Masto said, “We know there are at least 20 Republican Senators who will not vote for any relief package, as they voted against the last one. We also know some Republican colleagues who do recognize the need for a relief package and want to get something done.”

Cortez Masto then declared that several of her Republican colleagues have privately indicated that they want to move past Trumpian partisan warfare and deliver better results. Cortez Masto also shared this anecdote: “In committee, so many of us work together. Many of us have actually moved bills through committee in a bipartisan way, but they never moved on the floor because [Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky)] wouldn’t move them.”

“Donald Trump tried to stop the transfer of power after a free and fair election.” 
– U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto
Joe Biden, Electoral College
Photo by Andrew Davey

While Americans eagerly await the new president and new Congress quickly getting to business on COVID-19 containment and economic rescue, they’re also waiting to see who will be held accountable for the January 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol that nearly derailed Congress’ acceptance of the Electoral College results that guaranteed Biden’s inauguration.

Though Cortez Masto carefully stated that she takes her Congressional duty to serve as a juror in Trump’s impeachment trial seriously, she also made clear, “We are all witnesses and victims to January 6. This is something where the facts can not be distorted.” When asked why she thinks Trump’s impeachment trial still matters should it begin after Biden takes office, Cortez Masto noted, “Donald Trump tried to stop the transfer of power after a free and fair election.” 

On the violent mob who attacked the Capitol following Trump calling on them to march there, she stated, “On January 6, these right-wing extremists came to our symbol of democracy and tried to destroy it. They tried to stop elected representatives and Senators from doing their duty [in accepting the Electoral College results].” Cortez Masto then added this point on the necessity of holding Trump accountable for his role in all of this: “We have to for the American public, and we have to for our allies and adversaries to see that we believe in our democratic process.”

“It’s important to show everyone that we’re working together and we want to find common ground. We have a Senate that is 50-50. We have to work together.” 
– U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto
Catherine Cortez Masto
U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto. Photo by Andrew Davey

Earlier this week, Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia), one of the most conservative Democrats in Congress, surprised outside observers when he told a local television station that he supports as much as $4 trillion in public infrastructure and economic “stimulus” investment. Between Manchin’s recent comments in support of more “stimulus” and fellow moderate/conservative Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona) becoming more vocal in her condemnation of national and local Republicans in supporting Trump’s coup attempt and opposing COVID-19 health safety initiatives, progressives have become a bit more hopeful that Biden and Congressional Democrats will eventually deliver results regardless of how many Republicans decide to cooperate.

In this light, Cortez Masto’s optimism on potential breakthroughs in infrastructure improvement, climate action, immigration reform, and other priorities for Democratic lawmakers and grassroots activists makes more sense. Still, as Cortez Masto addressed both questions on Democrats’ legislative agenda and Americans’ wariness over the fragile state of our democracy, she reiterated, “It’s important to show everyone that we’re working together and we want to find common ground. We have a Senate that is 50-50. We have to work together.”

On questions of her own safety, Biden’s safety, and the safety of her colleagues as news continues to break on additional far-right threats of terrorist attacks to disrupt or destroy Biden’s inauguration that law enforcement agencies have thus far thwarted, Cortez Masto stressed that local and federal law enforcement agencies are doing a superb job in ensuring everyone’s safety. As Cortez Masto described the Capitol complex, “It’s a very secure area. There are a number of Secret Service and National Guardsmen throughout the area. I feel secure. I have no doubt that the Inauguration will occur tomorrow.”

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