On His Agenda
Congressman Ruben Kihuen shares his goals for representing Nevada on Capitol Hill.
Congressman Ruben Kihuen, the first Hispanic elected to represent Nevada on Capitol Hill, recently gave an exclusive interview to Las Vegas Black Image Magazine about his priorities. Here are his own words:
My number-one priority is job creation. We have to make sure that we continue working on putting people back to work. During the recession, Nevada was one of the states that was the hardest hit. At one point we had about 200,000 people unemployed and a 100,000 of those people were in the construction industry. The economy has gotten better, but some are still underemployed or still unemployed. I want to make sure that we continue working on creating jobs and economic opportunities for Nevadans.
My number two priority is to make sure our families and children have health insurance coverage. What we are seeing right now is the Affordable Care Act allowing over 80,000 Nevadans to obtain health insurance coverage. Plus, 600,000 families now have access to Medicaid that wouldn’t otherwise have health insurance. So, we have to make sure that we continue to protecting the Affordable Care Act.
Number three, we have to keep working on equality and justice for everyone and also paid equality for all. With women making less than a man for doing the same job, economic inequality in this country must be corrected, and we have to keep fighting for equal pay for equal work.
The rich are getting richer and the middle class is shrinking. We have to continue making sure that we raise the minimum wage not just for Nevada, but for the entire country. If people are working a 40 hours a week, they shouldn’t be below the poverty level. When we are seeing are people who are working 40 hours a week and they are making minimum wage, they are still living in poverty. So, we have to raise the minimum wage.
I was there Downtown Las Vegas for the Women’s March, and honestly I was very impressed to see the number of people who participated on a Saturday morning to speak up and to fight back. We are a nation of equality and justice for all — and when you see any injustice, that’s an injustice against all. For us, we are going to do whatever possible to make sure that women have equality and we are not legislating and telling them what to do with their bodies. So we are going to continue fighting for women to have the ability to make their own choices.
Even though we are going through turmoil in this country, we have to remember that we have made a lot of progress. While we celebrate the great contributions of African-Americans, we must remember that there was a time African-Americans could not drink from the same drinking fountains as white people and could not vote. But we saw our first African-American president serve eight years leading this country, and we appointed the first African American female attorney general. Now, Nevada has the first African-American speaker of the Assembly with Assemblyman Jason Frierson, and Senator Aaron Ford is serving as the Majority Leader in Nevada’s legislature. Steven Horsford was the first African-American to be elected to represent Nevada in the U.S. Congress.
We’ve made a lot of progress, but we also know we still have a lot of work to do. Black History Month obviously reminds us of not only our accomplishments and how far we have come, but how far we have to go because we still see racial tensions.