On the Record: The policy positions of Democratic House candidate Amy Vilela
It happens like clockwork.
Candidates announce their bids for office. Then the attack ads follow in short order, unabashedly targeting their voting records and more.
We’re here to help. The Nevada Independent already produces fact-checks for political advertisements and off-the-cuff remarks, but we also want to get ahead of the campaign game.
When politicians announce their candidacy for public office, we’ll roll out “On the Record” — our look at their voting history and stances on a broad array of subjects.
Now up: Democrat Amy Vilela, who announced a bid for the 4th Congressional District seat in July. While she planned to challenge incumbent Democratic Rep. Ruben Kihuen, he has since announced he will not run for re-election and other candidates have jumped into the fray.
Issues are in alphabetical order.
Although most Democrats in the race say they support the right to an abortion, Vilela takes it one step further and believes that the federal government shouldn’t be exempted from paying for it.
She supports the repeal of the Hyde Amendment, passed in 1976, that prohibits the federal government from covering the cost of an abortion. The provision generally affects low-income women on Medicaid.
Vilela also said she opposes any state or federal government provision that would prevent a private health plan from covering abortions.
Vilela wants to make colleges, universities and trade schools free.
Her position is informed by her son, who is on the autism spectrum and has dyslexia. He now works as a web designer.
“He’s super smart,” she said. “But when it came time for college … he could not keep up in a traditional college setting, keep up the pace. So thankfully we were able to afford a trade school that he could develop and have a career. But not everybody’s in that situation.”
She also supports forgiveness, cancellation or readjustment of federal student loans to “unleash the potential of an entire generation.”
“Current college graduates are being crushed by student loan debt,” she said on her website.
Vilela supports a wide range of gun control measures, including a ban on the sale of military-style assault weapons such as the AR-15.
She wants a ban on bump stocks, high powered magazines and any other devices that make semi-automatic weapons function like automatic weapons.
She supports background checks for all gun sales, including ones at gun shows and private sales that are currently exempt, and believes guns shouldn’t be sold to people under the age of 21.
Vilela supports “red flag” orders that are in place in some states, allowing law enforcement to temporarily confiscate weapons from people who are deemed to be a threat to themselves or others. She wants the program to be nationalized as a way to prevent weapons sales to people suffering from mental illness.
“Fully funding and treating mental illness will be a key element of our Medicare-for-all national healthcare plan,” she added on her website.
Vilela has been an advocate for Medicare for All, and part of her motivation for running is that Rep. Ruben Kihuen didn’t sign onto a bill to implement the proposal.
“Single-payer, universal care works. Medicare works. It works for your grandparents, your parents or maybe you,” Vilela wrote on her website.
The single-payer plan involves the existing system of hospitals, doctors and nurses, but with the government as the payment source — similar to Medicare. That’s in contrast to the idea of socialized medicine, in which the government not only pays for the care, but employs the doctors and nurses and owns the equipment — similar to the Veterans Administration health-care system.
“If it’s done effectively, socialized medicine can be good. I don’t think that right now our government is ready for that,” she said. “We’re talking about simply the government being the payer. So, pretty much, I mean it’s still managed by the physicians, the people that own the hospitals. But, the payer is the government. That gives them negotiating power for pharmaceuticals. It gives them negotiating power for medical equipment. And, it also ensures that every person is covered. They’re able to get preventative care.”
Other candidates in the race say they don’t want to pursue Medicare for All out of fear that it will adversely affect the VA.
“I think that’s a Republican talking point quite honestly. And, it’s kind of surprising that it’s coming from the Democrats,” she said, adding that if candidates don’t like all its provisions, they can still support the bill and amend it later in the process.
As a military wife, she’s on TRICARE, the active-duty military’s health insurance program, and said she doesn’t want to harm the VA.
“My husband is going to be a vet. I care deeply about our veterans and our active-duty military members,” she said. “Here’s the thing, we’re on TRICARE right now. TRICARE is even more managed by the government than what we’re talking about Medicare for All.”
Asked how the country can afford Medicare for All, Vilela said the government is already spending a large amount of money providing emergency care for the uninsured, and that private insurers spend about a third of their money on administrative costs, advertising and overhead that could be cut down with the government as the payer.
“They’ve done studies on this, and the studies show that over 10 years, it would save our government $17 trillion over 10 years. How can we afford not to do it? If we’re just talking about it in monetary means,” she said. “I would also like to challenge our leaders how can we not do it, and the American people, on humane reasons.”
Vilela, who is endorsed by National Nurses United, said she also supports mandated nurse-to-patient ratios in hospitals.
“We must make the resources available that will help transform our nation’s newcomers into contributing, wage-earning, tax-paying members of our society,” Vilela said on her website. “Freedom of movement and immigration should be considered a basic human right. We must recognize how difficult the decision is to leave one’s home. Immigrants very often don’t have any other choice.”
She supports a clean DREAM Act — one that would give legal status to immigrants brought to the country illegally as children — and protections for recipients of Temporary Protected Status, as well as a pathway to citizenship for all undocumented people living in the U.S.
Vilela also wants to preserve the rights of municipalities to declare themselves sanctuary cities.
“The recent ruling that derails a statewide ballot question is a positive step but the mean-spirited individuals who would hunt down undocumented immigrants will not give up and we must be prepared,” she said, referring to a legal setback on a proposed Nevada ballot measure that would ban sanctuary city policies.
Vilela supports federal legislation that would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
She also backs a Federal Jobs Guarantee — the promise of work to anyone who wants a job. As in the Great Depression, those jobs could accelerate public works projects, she says.
“American workers can rebuild our crumbling infrastructure — from bridges that are failing to replacing outdated and dangerous water systems,” she said on her website.
Vilela wants a federal ban on “right-to-work” laws, which allow people to opt out of a union if their workplace has one. Nevada is a right-to-work state.
She also said she’ll work to ensure large-scale public development projects use local workers for a “significant percentage” of the labor.
Vilela said she opposes the Trump administration’s efforts to reverse the designation of national monuments, including in Nevada.
“These lands will be exploited for their natural resources and profits will flow to out-of-state corporations,” she said. “Public lands belong to all of us. They shouldn’t be sold off to the highest bidder.”
She said she’ll “work to preserve the public lands that have come to represent the vast wilderness of the Golden West.”
Vilela said she opposes designating Yucca Mountain as the nation’s only site for a high-level nuclear waste repository.
“Science, not politics, should dictate a critical decision such as where to bury the most toxic substance known to humanity,” she said. “Too many safety questions remain.”
She also raised the prospect that placing waste in Nevada would affect tourism.
“Nevada’s lifeblood – it’s tourism industry – relies on the presumption of a safe, enjoyable visit,” she said. “Even a minuscule drop in tourism could cost Nevada’s economy hundreds of millions of dollars.”
She said she would explore the potential of Nevada’s testing facilities to develop technology for on-site processing of existing nuclear waste, and will support the transfer of spent fuel to dry storage casks “where it is more secure from potential threats.”