March is Women’s History Month, a time to recognize and honor the women who make Southern Nevada strong.
When I think of Women’s History Month, my mind turns to local heroes like Senator Pat Spearman, a trailblazer and champion for civil rights, Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno, who has fought tirelessly to protect maternal health and end health inequities, Senator Dina Neal, a champion for working families, and North Las Vegas Councilwoman Pamela Goynes-Brown, who has led the fight against COVID-19.
Southern Nevada is lucky to have many powerful women in our community – and I want to spotlight just a few more before I give you an update on my work in Washington.
Ms. Brenda Williams is a community elder who has spent a lifetime breaking down barriers. The first Black bank teller in the state of Nevada, she rose to become the first Black woman appointed to the Las Vegas City Council, and the first Black woman on the Las Vegas Planning Commission. She published “Westside School Alumni Stories: Our School, Our Community, Our Time,” which highlights the stories of students from the historic Westside of Las Vegas.
Cassandra Lewis is director of the Doolittle Senior Center. During the pandemic, Cassandra has been a voice for “her seniors” as she calls them, making Doolittle a hub for community COVID-19 education, testing and vaccination. She is among the frontline heroes who are accelerating our recovery from this pandemic, and I am deeply grateful for her ongoing work.
Trina Giles is the owner of Gritz Café in North Las Vegas. Like thousands of other small business owners in our community, she has worked hard to keep the doors of her restaurant open despite the challenges of COVID-19.
When I vote on COVID-19 relief in Congress, the stories of Brenda, Cassandra, Trina, and others like them are always on my mind.
Over the past few months, my colleagues and I have been working with the Biden-Harris administration to provide a comprehensive aid package to our struggling communities.
The concern around this relief package is not going too big, it is going too small. We live in unprecedented times, and Congress must rise to the moment and provide enough aid to get our families, small businesses, and local governments on the path to recovery.
President Biden has introduced the American Rescue Plan, a bold piece of legislation aimed at helping hard-working families and small businesses and further implementing a national vaccination strategy. This plan provides funding for a comprehensive COVID response with expanding testing, treatment, and vaccination to protect our communities from the virus. In good news, President Biden recently announced that the United States has purchased enough doses of the vaccine to inoculate every single American adult.
In early February, I joined my colleagues in the House Ways and Means committee to debate key parts of the American Rescue Plan, including direct cash payments, unemployment insurance payments, a Child Tax Credit, and the Earned Income Tax Credit.
I am proud to share that the American Rescue Plan includes my bill -- the Unemployed Worker Lifeline Act -- which would increase federal weekly unemployment payments from $300 to $400 and extend these payments through August 29. Unless Congress acts quickly, federal unemployment insurance will expire on March 14, leaving millions of Americans struggling.
But passing the American Rescue Plan is just the start -- not the end -- of the work that Congress must do to help American families recover from this pandemic.
Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to visit two vaccine distribution sites in Clark County, alongside Clark County Commission Chair Marilyn Kirkpatrick and North Las Vegas Councilwoman Pamela Goynes-Brown.
These visits provided me with the opportunity to speak with the administrators of the sites and learn about the resources they need to distribute more vaccines. I also had the opportunity to thank the frontline health care workers who were administering the vaccines. As our vaccination efforts continue, I am committed to working closely with federal, state, and local officials to make sure Nevada has the resources we need.
Another priority of mine is to make sure that vaccine doses are distributed equitably, especially in communities of color who have been disproportionately impacted by this pandemic. We must ensure marginalized communities have access to the support they need to recover and rebuild from this pandemic.
This pandemic has highlighted the shortcomings of our public health system, particularly for people of color. I am glad to see that President Biden has demonstrated his commitment to progress with the creation of the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force, which will work to address health inequities created by the pandemic.
We can’t build back better if we leave anyone behind and having partners like President Biden and Vice President Harris in the White House is an important part of moving forward.
As we move forward in the new Congress, my priorities remain the same: Crush the coronavirus, get our economy back on track, and restore public faith in our democratic institutions.
If you need help navigating these challenging times, my office is always here for you. We can always be reached by phone at (702) 963-9360 or on the web at http://horsford.house.gov.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: U.S. Congressman Steven Horsford understands the challenges many families in Nevada’s Fourth face each and everyday. He will fight for responsible gun control and background checks. He lost his father when he was 19 and empathizes with those who have experienced the pain of losing a loved one to gun violence. He will work tirelessly to end the school to prison pipeline and provide the safety net children and families need to succeed. Serving together, Representative Horsford and his wife Sonya, have worked to strengthen children, families and communities because they know - family matters.