VP Kamala Harris Visits Las Vegas, Touts ‘Help is Here’ Economic Recovery Campaign

Posted on: March 15, 2021, 01:28h. 

Last updated on: March 15, 2021, 08:37h.

Vice President Kamala Harris was in Las Vegas today to promote what the White House believes are the benefits of the recently passed $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan.” 

Kamala Harris Las Vegas coronavirus
Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff arrive on Air Force Two in Las Vegas. Harris is set to crisscross the country promoting the economic benefits of Washington’s recently passed $1.9 trillion relief package. (Image: Twitter)

President Joe Biden dispatched his second-in-command on a public relations campaign that is being dubbed the “Help is Here” tour. It is Harris’ first domestic trip as vice president. 

Las Vegas is a most appropriate city to launch the public relations initiative, as Southern Nevada’s economy has been greatly impacted by COVID-19. 

The $1.9 trillion spending package includes $3.847 billion in federal funding relief for Nevada. Each state’s allocation was partially dependent on its unemployment rate. Nevada’s unemployment rate enabled the state to receive more than $880 million more than it would have based strictly on population. Only four states received a larger increase than Nevada.

COVID-19 resulted in Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) forcing all commercial casinos to fully shutter operations in mid-March a year ago. Gaming was allowed to resume in greatly reduced capacities in early June. 

The shutdowns resulted in tens of thousands of gaming industry workers being furloughed, and many permanently let go. While Nevada’s economic recovery is underway, the state’s unemployment rate stood at 8.1 percent in January — substantially higher than the 6.3 percent national average.

The state’s unemployment rate hit a record high of 28.2 percent in April of 2020. 

Light Las Vegas Visitor Traffic

Harris visited a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at UNLV and also made an appearance at the Culinary Academy of Las Vegas. 

Harris said the surge in vaccine administrations, paired with the massive relief spending package, will help return the US to a sense of normal in the coming months.

More than 100 million checks are headed out the door. More than 100 million vaccinations have been administered. Soon Americans will be back at work. Kids will be back in school. Small businesses will be back open,” Harris declared.

Visitor volume in Las Vegas still isn’t back. Statistics provided by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority show that less than 1.3 million people traveled to Southern Nevada in January. That’s a 63.5 percent drop compared with January of 2020. 

Nevada Recovery Funds

Of the $3.8 billion Nevada received from the federal government, $2.9 billion is set aside for the state and the remaining $945 million for local aid. The money equates to roughly $1,249 per Nevada adult.

State and local officials can use the money to help combat the ongoing pandemic, cover tax revenue shortfalls, and “address the negative economic impacts” of the coronavirus crisis. 

Some Republican state lawmakers, however, are concerned that accepting the federal stimulus money prevents any potential near-term tax breaks for constituents. HR 1319, the “American Rescue Plan,” includes the restriction that a state “shall not use the funds … to either directly or indirectly offset a reduction in the net tax revenue … resulting from a change in law, regulation, or administrative interpretation during the covered period that reduces any tax (by providing for a reduction in a rate, a rebate, a deduction, a credit, or otherwise).”

“It is possible to imagine several scenarios where tax cuts could be permitted. But in practice, many state tax cut proposals could run afoul of the federal legislation, even if most observers wouldn’t consider the cuts to have relied on the federal aid,” summarized Jared Walczak of the nonprofit Tax Foundation. 

No Republican in either the Senate or House voted in favor of the $1.9 trillion relief package. Conservatives argued the bill was bloated with pork.