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California Focus: State GOP reps vote against Californians

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If there’s one thing members of Congress are elected to do, it’s to look after the best interests of their own constituents and other people living in their state.

If there’s one thing most of the 14 Republicans among California’s 53 members of the House of Representatives have not been doing much lately, it’s representing the best interests of many of their constituents.

So it’s no wonder at least half those California Republicans are considered very vulnerable as mid-term elections grow closer.

To see that almost all these GOP congressfolks are not doing what they can to further the interests of Californians, examine the list of those who signed a November letter in which Gov. Jerry Brown requested $7.4 billion in federal fire relief funds for the Wine Country and other areas devastated by October’s huge wildfires. No request has yet been filed for the vast December blazes in Southern California because damage estimates are far from complete.

All 39 House Democrats from California signed, but only one Republican – Ed Royce of Fullerton, whose district includes some of the Anaheim Hills area where the Canyon Fire 2 caused evacuation of more than 1,000 homes. One non-signer was Steve Knight, whose own 25th District was hit less than a month later by a highly damaging wildfire.

Lack of support from California Republicans was probably one reason the state will get just $4.4 million in relief for the October fires. The entire California delegation signed a separate, later request for that lesser amount. In short, Knight and his cohorts didn’t exactly look out for the interests of fellow Californians whose homes and possessions turned to ash.

Then there was the odd admission of San Diego County Rep. Duncan Hunter, who voted along with most other California Republicans to bring the House GOP’s tax bill to a vote, even though it sought to deprive millions of Californians of tax deductions for state and local income and property taxes. On the final House vote, three California Republicans voted no, but only after it was clear the bill would pass. Most vocal was the embattled Darrell Issa of north San Diego County, who said “I didn’t come to Washington to raise taxes on my constituents.”

Hunter said he voted for the plan because “it’s good for most states.” But he conceded that “California…, New York and other states that have horrible governments, yes, it’s not as good for those states.” So Hunter admits he voted for a tax bill harmful to his own state and his constituents.

Hunter was already in some trouble in his district over an FBI investigation of alleged misuse of campaign funds supposedly spent for personal expenses.

All 14 California Republicans also voted earlier this year to repeal the Affordable Care Act, often known as Obamacare. In California, that measure is administered by the Covered California organization through which many thousands of constituents of the Republicans in Congress now get coverage.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, for whom he is a target, claims fully 50 percent of residents in the Hanford-centered district of David Valadao are insured via Obamacare. “We think Latinos will turn out in higher numbers than ever in that district because of the health care votes,” said Andrew Godinich, the DCCC’s regional press secretary. “And we think the Republican vote there will be depressed because of the big enthusiasm gap between the parties.”

Meanwhile, no Republicans were talking about why they refused to sign the Brown fire recovery letter, circulated to them all. Some likely thought the money requested could be used for things like desalination plants or that there would be a requirement for union labor on projects it funded.

But the letter specified the money would go to housing reconstruction, hazardous waste removal and help for growers with devastated vineyards and farms.

So far, then, no Republican has given a solid reason for refusing to sign that letter and there has been little justification offered for voting to enable a tax bill that stands to harm Californians more than anyone else.

So if any – or all – of the targeted Republicans should lose their seats next fall, they need only look at their own records for an explanation.

Email Thomas Elias at tdelias@aol.com.