State politics hold up California's new congressman

State politics hold up California's new congressman
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Three weeks later, where’s California’s new congressman?
 
Since Jimmy Gomez won a special election to fill a vacant seat in Congress, the California Democrat has yet to show up in Washington, D.C., to claim his prize. That means constituents in his Los Angeles-area district still don't have an official representative more than five months after his predecessor resigned.
 
Gomez will be sworn in on Tuesday, July 11, a senior Democratic aide told The Hill — more than a full month after he won his seat in Congress, and three weeks after the House officially received a certificate of election from California’s secretary of State.
 
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The representative-elect initially told reporters he had a family obligation on June 15, which delayed his first official trip to Washington. 
 
But that was nearly two weeks ago. 
 
Sources in Sacramento say the delay is all about state politics.
 
Gov. Jerry Brown (D) is working on a deal to extend California’s cap-and-trade program. While Democrats have a supermajority of seats in the state Assembly, a handful of moderate Democrats are on the fence. An extension would require two-thirds of the votes in the state legislature.
 
Gomez “is a sure thing for cap and trade, so if he leaves, two-thirds is tough,” said one top Democratic lobbyist.
 
Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D) asked Gomez to stay in Sacramento through June 15 in case a vote came up. Brown, who hoped to pass the cap-and-trade extension by July 4, asked Gomez to stay longer, according to a senior Democratic Assembly aide.
 
Gomez’s campaign team did not respond to a request for comment.
 
The California legislature plans to be in session until July 21, when it will break until September. A special election would be called to fill the vacancy once Gomez formally resigns to take his seat in Congress.
 
Two other special elections — one in Georgia, one in South Carolina — took place two weeks after Gomez won his seat. Both of those winners, Reps. Karen Handel (R-Ga.) and Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), have been sworn into office already.
 
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R), also from California, criticized Gomez’s absence in a letter to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), California Secretary of State Alex Padilla (D) and Gomez himself.
 
“Mr. Gomez’s absence means his constituents have no representative to help resolve veterans claims and/or appeals with the Department of Veterans Affairs. They have no representative to secure lost or misappropriated social security or Medicare checks. And they have no representative to debate and vote in the People’s House on the critical issues facing our country,” McCarthy wrote.
 
He called Gomez’s decision to stay in Sacramento to vote on cap-and-trade legislation an “unabashed play to politics.” McCarthy said Gomez should resign if he does not report to Congress soon.
 
Caroline Behringer, a Pelosi spokeswoman, said Gomez “has been clear that he had an existing family conflict and couldn’t be sworn in this week.”
 
Gomez, a state Assemblyman, won the right to replace former Rep. Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraTrump is right: Healthcare should be handled by the states California attorney general calls for unauthorized immigration to be decriminalized Pelosi announces lawsuit to block Trump's emergency declaration MORE (D) with 60 percent of the vote in a June 6 special election. Becerra quit his House seat to become California’s attorney general. 
 
Gomez’s decision to delay his swearing in has cost him personally. His salary as a state assemblyman is $104,115 per year. A rank-and-file congressman makes $174,000 per year.