A picture of Representative Steven A. Horsford
Steven H.
Former Democrat NV 4
About Rep. Steven
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    by Former Representative Steven A. Horsford

    Posted on 2013-12-10

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    HORSFORD. Thank you to the gentleman from California (Mr. Garamendi) for yielding time. I appreciate your leadership, as well as the work that you and our whip, Mr. Hoyer; General Enyart; the gentlelady from Ohio; the gentlelady from Maryland; and many of my other colleagues, who have been working for so long to bring the focus to jobs, job creation, and growing the economy in America.

    We are here today to talk about the American Dream, and that is having a good job--a family-sustaining job that can provide for yourself and your loved ones. We are talking about expanding economic opportunity not just for a select few at the top, but for those who are in the middle class who are striving to become a part of it. We are talking about the basics of job creation.

    And, yes, I am a freshman. I have been here for just under a year. I am amazed and quite humbly frustrated by the fact that in 1 year not one comprehensive jobs bill has been brought to this floor for a vote by the majority on the other side; and yet we have example upon example of good job-creating legislation. The package of bills that is under the umbrella of the Make It in America proposal are good, commonsense proposals that would help every region of our country.

    [[Page H7623]] Now, I am from Nevada. At 9.3 percent, my State, though, has the highest unemployment in the country right now. It is nothing that we are proud of. It is stubbornly high, in large part because we experienced the hardest impact during the recession. When people aren't doing well in other regions of the country, they are not making money. That means they can't come to Nevada to spend money.

    While our economy is largely dependent upon hospitality and the service industry, my district, which encompasses some 51,000 square miles throughout every corner of Nevada, has mining, agriculture, and four military installations, including many, many private small business contractors who are doing work at our Air Force bases and the Army depot. It has other small businesses who are ancillary to the hospitality industry. And so they have all been impacted by this decline in the economy, and so we have an unemployment rate that is currently at about 9.3 percent.

    I am glad that my colleague from California showed those pictures from the job fair that you conducted. I want to commend you for doing that because it puts a face on these numbers. It is not about a percentage point here or there. It is about the faces of the people who are standing in line looking for work.

    Right now in this body at this time it is incredibly important for us to focus on the lives of the people who are impacted because of this Congress's inability to get something done as important as jobs legislation for this country.

    Now I would like to touch just on two major points, if I could. The first is the fact that, again, in my State, we have had a prolonged recession. So many of the people who have been unemployed have been unemployed for going on a year or longer. Some of them actually are from the construction sector, which was our number two industry in Nevada. But because of the burst in the housing market, the fact that we are not building as much in the commercial sector, the lion's share of the people who are unemployed actually come from the construction sector.

    They also come from engineering companies. They also come from architecture companies. I have talked to small business owners who run architecture firms who have had to lay off more than 40 to 50 percent of their staff over the last few years.

    {time} 1715 These are good-paying jobs as well, jobs that provide good wages for families to provide for themselves.

    But the points I want to make include the fact that on December 28, if this Congress doesn't do something in the next few days, some 20,000 individuals in Nevada who currently are receiving emergency unemployment compensation are at risk of losing that safety net, if this Congress fails to act.

    Now, I don't see how in good conscience we as Members of Congress who, as you say, get paid a good wage--the best wage I have ever had as a poor person growing up in Nevada who has had to work two jobs virtually since I was 14, 15 years of age, to now be a Member of Congress, is a great honor. But I do not see how in good conscience we could leave here on Friday and fail to extend unemployment benefits for millions of Americans who need this safety net, especially at the holiday season Now, a lot of people who were standing in that line have children. They have families that are relying on them to put food on the table. There are people in my district who I have talked to who say that they are going to go without having a holiday this December because the only thing they can do is to provide enough money to keep a roof over their head, food on the table, and gas in the car so that they can keep looking for a job.

    So I would encourage the leadership here to do everything that they can to allow us to vote to extend the unemployment emergency compensation that is set to expire on December 28; 20,000 Nevadans in my home State are relying on it, and I know millions of other Americans are as well.

    Let me just close to my colleague from California by also offering one more suggestion of ways in which we can get America working again. I introduced legislation, Putting Our Veterans Back to Work Act of 2013.

    One other interesting fact about Nevada, about a third of our constituents are veterans. These are people who have given their all to protect our country's freedom in a time of combat; and now all they ask for when they come home is an opportunity for a job, an opportunity for decent housing, for quality health care, access to education for themselves and their kids.

    So, with my colleagues, I have introduced H.R. 3454, the Putting Our Veterans Back to Work Act. It renews our vow to hire our heroes by reauthorizing the transition, retraining, and employment services that have been created. It expands our vow to veteran small business owners to ensure that they have access to capital that they need for the veteran-owned small businesses that we are encouraging to grow.

    It builds on our vow to hire heroes by basically committing additional resources through job training, the Workforce Investment Act system, to ensure that our veterans are given priority for hiring.

    Finally, it ensures that our veterans are not being discriminated against in the workplace. So this is an important contribution I think to the Make It in America proposal, and I think it speaks to the other opportunities that we have here today to grow our economy.

    I just want to close by saying to Mr. Garamendi that it is great that we can have a focus on what we can do in this Congress. Again, I have only been here a year, and it is frustrating to hear what we can't do: the fact that we haven't been able to pass comprehensive immigration reform or employment protections for individuals regardless of who they love, the fact that there are infrastructure bills that have been proposed by the Make It in America proposal that have bipartisan support so we can revitalize our country.

    We can do great things if this body, if the Members on the other side who have refused to allow these bills to come to a vote, if they could meet us halfway. We can meet the needs of the American public. We can provide equal pay for equal work and make sure that women are paid the wages that they deserve. We can invest in education and make sure that our schools are adequately funded. We can replace the sequester and make sure that our kids have a head start at a bright future, and we can strengthen our social safety net for seniors and the poor and those who are in the middle class.

    Mr. Speaker, there is no shortage of what we can do to increase opportunity, to grow the economy and to create jobs. This Congress just needs to show the willingness to work, to put the American people back to work.

    I want to commend, again, my colleague, Mr. Garamendi, and the others who have spoken this evening for putting this issue front and center. This is the priority that the American people want us to focus on: jobs, jobs, jobs. Thank you.

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