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Kamala Harris visits Las Vegas to tout COVID relief bill

Updated March 18, 2021 - 2:05 pm

Vice President Kamala Harris visited with health care providers at UNLV and workers packing food boxes for those in need at the Culinary Academy of Las Vegas on Monday in the first of a series of stops throughout the country to tout the benefits of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan.

“You are the heroes of this moment,” Harris told about a dozen workers packing thousands of pounds of food into distributable boxes at the Culinary Academy on Monday afternoon. The facility has provided more than 37 million meals to Southern Nevadans since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic with support from previous stimulus packages.

Harris stressed the purpose of her tour was to educate as many people as possible about the benefits available through the Rescue Plan — not just the $1,400 checks available to eligible individuals, but also child care credits, extended unemployment, health insurance benefits and additional support for those experiencing hunger.

She also sought to remind people of what she said should be the government’s role during a disaster.

“When you’re suffering, when you need a helping hand, when you need a little assistance just to get over a moment of crisis you didn’t create — that’s when leaders are supposed to kick in to say, ‘I’m here. I see you, and I will help you,’” Harris said.

Something for everyone

The latest stimulus money will lift 40,000 children in Nevada out of poverty and aid the 1 in 7 households currently reporting food insecurity, the 1 in 5 struggling to pay rent and the 1 in 4 small-business owners who have had to shut down, Harris said. The plan will see more than $4.5 billion in benefits flow to the state of Nevada, local governments, school districts and transportation agencies.

The assistance is also meant to solve deep equality issues within communities.

“Not everybody starts out on the same base,” Harris said. “Some people started on first base. Some started on third. The point of equality was we should all kind of end up in the same place … so equity says let’s take into account not everybody starts on the same base. That was part of the spirit behind the American Rescue Plan.”

Harris was introduced by Rep. Steven Horsford, who ran the Culinary Academy before serving in Congress, and current Academy CEO Mark Scott. Horsford said the Rescue Act will provide support to Nevadans, including $1 billion in education funding — $886 million of which will go to the vast Clark County School District.

Nevada hit hard

In a brief question-and-answer session with reporters after her events, Harris said she chose Nevada as her first stop due to the outsized impact of the pandemic on the state’s hospitality workers.

“I’ve heard stories of folks who have been in this industry for 15 to 30-something years, and they’ve been let go because of COVID,” she said. “But now their real concern is one of when the business opens back up, are they going to be rehired.”

She said these firsthand accounts help illuminate the statistics attached to this pandemic.

Harris was asked if the Biden administration plans to raise taxes as part of the next phase of recovery.

“We haven’t really figured out what the next phase is going to be, to he honest with you,” the vice president said. “And we’re going to make those decisions . (The American Rescue Act) just happened last week, and we want to get on the road and let the people know what it is, so I’ll keep you posted.”

Earlier in the day, Harris toured a UNLV vaccination site with Gov. Steve Sisolak. She also stopped for tacos with state Attorney General Aaron Ford. Harris served as attorney general of California before being elected to the U.S. Senate.

According to her office, Harris also spoke to former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid about “the American Rescue Plan and its impact on Nevadans given the economic devastation families and communities have endured due to COVID-19.”

Harris’ husband, second gentleman Douglas Emhoff, also toured the food bank at Three Square on Monday morning.

The couple traveled back to their home state of California after Monday’s event. They plan to visit Denver on Tuesday as the brief tour rolls on.

Contact Rory Appleton at rappleton@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0276. Follow @RoryDoesPhonics on Twitter.

A previous version of this story misstated how many meals the Culinary Academy has delivered. It has provided more than 37 million meals.

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