Congressman Joe Heck: What Latinos Need to Know About GOP Candidate Seeking Harry Reid's Senate Seat
Top issues for U.S. Latino registered voters include education, economy, and immigration, and for Latino Nevadans, the next elected official with a complimentary track record. One politician who will engage for the Latino vote is Rep. Joseph Heck, R-Nevada, who confirmed his Senate bid to succeed Democratic Sen. Harry Reid's seat.
Heck represents Nevada's 3rd Congressional District, which includes prominent minority populations including Latinos and Filipinos. With the hope to represent the entire state, Heck would represent a Latino population comprising of 27.5 percent of the overall population, which is higher than the national 17.1 percent average.
According to the Pew Research Center, education is the No. 1 issue among registered Latino voters, with nearly half of a survey's respondents citing education as "extremely" important.
In a bipartisan effort with Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., Heck introduced the "Career and Technical Education Equity Act" (H.R. 3028) in 2013. The legislation would have prevented future career and technical education (CTE) funding cuts of over 10 percent, per year. Heck and Grijalva noted their respective states are among many that faced "drastic underfunding" for CTE programs due to an increase of new residents and an "outdated" funding formula. The bill would have amended the 2006 "Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act," which provides CTE program funding.
In a statement in 2013, Heck stated, "Career and technical education programs prepare students for the in-demand, good-paying jobs that are critical to our continued economic recovery. ... This bill will protect CTE funding and continue to provide Nevada's students with opportunities to learn the skills to help them find in-demand jobs."
Based on Census data between 2000 and 2010, the Nevada Latino population increased by 81.9 percent, which is a faster rate compared to the national and West Census region figures -- 43 percent and 34.3 percent respectively.
Most recently, he introduced H.R. 2927, which would allow designated Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) to access existing grant dollars to fund students' advancements from four-year schools or community colleges to medical school. The bill has received cosponsor support from several Latino lawmakers including Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla.; Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla.; Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., and Rep. Raul Ruiz, D-Calif., who serves as the lead Democratic sponsor.
Heck currently serves on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, and works in its Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training and Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions.
Economy and Immigration:
The economy and jobs ranked as the second-highest issue with Latino registered voters. Based on Pew Research Center's study, a considerable size of Latinos (44 percent) said Republicans "could do a better job" on handling the economy.
In 2014, Heck supported the "Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act" (H.R. 803), which aimed to improve the country's workforce development system and job training programs. According to heck, millions of employment opportunities are available but many potential workers lack adequate skills. H.R. 803 also emphasized on local-level employed and educational initiatives.
Heck also sponsored two bills that connected immigration and employment.
In the "Jobs Recovery by Ensuring a Legal American Workforce Act" (H.R. 800), he supported amending the "Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996," to make the E-Verify program permanent and mandatory. The bill would have directed the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to improve its monitoring and compliance team within the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Last March, he introduced the "Jobs Originated through Launching Travel (JOLT) Act" (H.R. 1401), based on a previous JOLT Act, which expanded visa processing and expedited entry for priority visitors. The 2015 JOLT bill would also direct the Secretary of State to "require U.S. diplomatic and consular missions to: (1) conduct nonimmigrant visa application interviews expeditiously, consistent with national security requirements and in recognition of resource allocation considerations; and (2) set a goal of interviewing 90 percent of all nonimmigrant visa applicants, worldwide, within 10 days of application receipt."
The "Visa Waiver Program Enhanced Security and Reform Act" (H.R. 2686) was introduced last month, and it authorized DHS to designate any country to the U.S. visa waiver program.
Heck's district does include a prominent Filipino population. In a bipartisan effort, he is a cosponsor of the "Filipino Veterans Family Reunification Act of 2015" (H.R. 483), which would exempt children of select Filipino World War II veterans from the immigrant visas quota whose parent(s) were naturalized under the Immigration Act of 1990. The bill has been referred to the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security.
In regards to Obama's November 2014 immigration executive actions, Heck has opposed the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) and the expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programs, which would provide temporary relief to approximately 4.9 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S.
Heck is currently the only Republican candidate seeking Reid's seat. Meanwhile, Democrats have former Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto as their Democratic candidate for Reid's seat. Last March, Reid spoke positively about Cortez Masto's potential run.
(Updated to include Catherine Cortez Masto's Senate bid).
For the latest updates, follow Latin Post's Michael Oleaga on Twitter: @EditorMikeO or contact via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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