Rep. Susie Lee Releases 2020 Second Quarter Report
Las Vegas, Nev. – U.S. Rep. Susie Lee (Nev.-03) released the following statement marking her second quarter of 2020 in Congress and her office’s accomplishments during that period:
“In a few short months, our country has faced a once-in-a-century pandemic, a severe unemployment crisis, and a grassroots uprising against systemic racism. No matter how unprecedented the moment, there are no excuses. Congress needs to step up and lead. I remain committed to working day and night to see us through this moment.
“There is nothing more important to me than the health and economic security of Nevada’s workers, families, and small businesses. As always but especially at this moment, constituent services are my top priority, so I'm proud that my office has helped over 1,500 constituents since the quarter began in April with COVID-19-related cases. I'll keep fighting for the thousands more Nevadans who still need relief during this pandemic.
“Congress has passed four comprehensive COVID-19 relief packages to help working families, frontline health and essential workers, and small businesses. It’s a good start, but nowhere close to what our country needs, which is why I have continued to push Congress to pass federal relief for state and local governments, relief for all student borrowers, secured protections for student veterans, and accountability of the VA to ensure our veterans are receiving the health care they deserve.”
Accomplishments for Constituents since April 1, 2020:
- Recovered approximately $143,000 for constituents.
- Responded to over 23,000 emails, calls, and letters.
- Assisted over 1,800 constituents with specific issues, 1,576 of which were COVID-19-related cases.
- Attended/hosted 35 in-person or virtual public events, 29 of which were COVID-19 related.
- Includes hosting 3 town halls, 8 Facebook Live events, and 6 roundtables.
On March 11, as the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic escalated, Rep. Lee’s office restructured its team to handle the increasing demand for constituent services, which bolstered the office’s ability to assist constituents in the following months.
COVID-19 Pandemic Response
Leading the charge in Congress for state and local funding to combat COVID-19
As a result of declining state and local revenue from the economic impact of COVID-19, the State of Nevada is facing an estimated $1.27 billion shortfall in the General Fund for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2020 (FY2021). This represents a 25 percent decrease in General Fund expenditures below previously budgeted amounts.
Rep. Lee has been one of the most vocal advocates in Congress pushing for federal assistance to states and communities suffering from devastating budget shortfalls due to lost tax revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic. She outlined her solutions to this issue in her June 7 Las Vegas Review-Journal op-ed.
On April 17, Rep. Lee introduced legislation to increase critical federal aid for Medicaid programs as state unemployment rates worsen. The bill would create automatic triggers that increase the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP), or the share of Medicaid costs borne by the federal government, based on each state’s unemployment condition. An increase in federal Medicaid assistance would help states allocate budget resources towards important programs like education, infrastructure, and social services. A provision similar to her legislation was included in the Heroes Act, which passed the House of Representatives on May 15.
Rep. Lee also helped secure expanded stabilization funds in the Heroes Act for smaller communities with populations of fewer than 500,000, which were excluded from CARES Act relief. Smaller cities in Nevada’s 3rd District, like Henderson and Boulder City, would directly benefit from this aid, along with billions of dollars in direct assistance to states that were included in the Heroes Act.
Yesterday, Rep. Lee hosted a roundtable to hear directly from Nevada public workers about how the state’s budget shortfalls will impact their work. They discussed the importance of securing federal assistance to help Nevada’s workers and families.
Pushing policy to ensure COVID-19 loan relief for all student borrowers
While the CARES Act provided relief for most of the nation’s student borrowers, recipients of Perkins Loans and commercially held FFEL loans were not included in the original legislation. Rep. Lee helped introduce two separate pieces of legislation that would expand the reach of the student borrower protections to borrowers with Perkins Loans and FFEL loans, respectively.
The COVID–19 Perkins Loan Relief Act would allow the nearly 2 million borrowers with Perkins Loans to forgo making payments on those loans until October, while the Equity in Student Loan Relief Act would allow the same relief for 7.2 million borrowers who took out FFEL loans before they were discontinued in 2010.
Rep. Lee’s legislation signed into law to protect student veterans during COVID-19
On April 28, President Trump signed into law the Student Veteran Coronavirus Response Act, which helps hundreds of thousands of student veterans who were at risk of losing out on important benefits during COVID-19.
This comprehensive package helps hundreds of thousands of student veterans secure important education benefits, work study opportunities, and student housing assistance that were at risk of being cut because of COVID-19. Additionally, GI Bill benefits are only available to veterans for a finite amount of time, and this bill will stop the clock on that window of availability and resume once veterans start taking classes again.
Holding VA accountable for veterans’ health during COVID-19 as Chairwoman of HVAC Subcommittee
Rep. Lee has continued to fight for relief and resources for veterans throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. As Chairwoman of the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Technology Modernization, Rep. Lee has helped oversee VA’s use of $2.15 billion in congressionally approved COVID-19 emergency funding designated to support increased telework, telehealth, and call center capabilities to deliver health care services to veterans during COVID-19.
Since last year, Rep. Lee has fought tooth and nail to overturn Education Sec. Betsy DeVos’s 2019 Borrower Defense rule that guts essential protections for student borrowers and taxpayers.
Rep. Lee’s bill to overturn the 2019 Borrower Defense rule was passed by both chambers of Congress with support from both parties and supported by a number of organizations from across the ideological spectrum, including veterans’ organizations such as The American Legion. President Trump vetoed her bill on May 29, 2020, leading to the House’s vote to overturn his veto on June 26. The final veto override vote was 238 to 173 with 19 members not voting, failing to reach the two-thirds majority needed to pass the House.
While the veto override vote ultimately did not garner the necessary support, Rep. Lee’s advocacy and concrete legislation has helped shine a light on the mistreatment of student borrowers, veterans, and taxpayers at the hands of predatory schools aided by Secretary DeVos’s weak policies.