Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Departing CA Congressman Brian Bilbray makes final pitch for E-verify

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Kitty Felde

Congressman Brian Bilbray, Chair of House Immigration Reform Caucus, is leaving Capitol Hill after three terms and taking his surfboard with him.

A California Congressman devoted most of his last speech on the US House floor to a topic he’s promoted since he got to Congress: immigration. He also fired a parting shot about DC’s weather.

Republican Congressman Brian Bilbray of San Diego is a big fan of E-verify, the electronic data base companies can use to check the immigration status of prospective employees. In his final speech on the House floor, Bilbray said making E-verify mandatory could help solve the budget crisis. "When are we going to stop the practice of people who are committing a crime by employing illegal immigrants?" he asked. "Take the tax deduction away and require that if a business wants to claim a business deduction for employing somebody that we make sure those employees are legal."

Democrat Scott Peters defeated Bilbray in the November election. The three-term lawmaker has packed up his office, including the surfboard that graced his wall. He told his colleagues he was going to miss "a lot of faces" in Washington. "But as a San Diegan," he added, "let me assure you, I will not miss the weather."

Not to worry, there’s still a surfer on the Hill. Huntington Beach Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher keeps three boards in his DC office. 

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Congressional fight focused on citizenship for undocumented immigrants

Democratic U.S. Rep. Grace Napolitano of El Monte spoke Wednesday at a Congressional Hispanic Caucus event to call for comprehensive immigration reform.

Suddenly, immigration is the buzz word on Capitol Hill. A pair of Republican Senators floated their idea Tuesday for giving legal status to illegal young people, and the House of Representatives is expected to vote Friday on a visa bill. But the chances of a comprehensive immigration bill passing both the House and Senate anytime soon remain slim.

Shortly after the election, House Speaker John Boehner seemed to open the door to immigration reform. He called for a "common sense, step-by-step approach, it would secure our borders, allow us to enforce our laws and fix a broken immigration system."

L.A. Congressman Xavier Becerra, a top Democrat in the House, says Boehner isn’t the only Republican talking immigration, citing both talk show host Sean Hannity and Super PAC leader Karl Rove.

"The question is no longer if," said Becerra, "it’s when.  Will we get a solid, sensible bill done? That’s the question."

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GOP incumbents officially defeated in 3 close Congressional races (map)

Democrat Raul Ruiz unseated Republican incumbent Mary Bono-Mack in a Coachella Valley district that includes Palm Springs.

It’s been nearly two weeks since Californians cast their ballots, but it finally looks as though all 53 of the state’s Congressional races have winners, including three races that had been too close to call.  

All three races went to Democratic challengers.  California’s Secretary of State says absentee and provisional ballots have put emergency room doctor Raul Ruiz more than 7,800 votes ahead of Palm Springs incumbent Republican Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack.

Another physician, Sacramento’s Ami Bera, defeated 17-year incumbent Dan Lungren by 5,600 votes. Bera isn’t surprised Californians voted out the incumbents. He says there's "a real sense of frustration with this last Congress and their inability to address the issues that face our nation." 

Down in San Diego, incumbent GOP Congressman Brian Bilbray has conceded to port commissioner Scott Peters, who is more than 5,000 votes ahead.

The results mean California's Republican delegation has shrunk from 19 members to 15.

Officially, the races won’t be certified until mid-December. But all three Democrats will return to Washington next week for round two of freshman orientation. 

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Pelosi mum on leadership role; introduces Democratic freshmen

There are still two undecided Congressional races in California. But even without those, there are nearly a dozen new members of Congress from the Golden State. The top Democrat in the House, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, introduced her party’s new crop Tuesday in Washington D.C.

Pelosi filled the stage with new Democrats...and they kept spilling out of the green room. Pelosi welcomed several by name, including Ventura Congresswoman-elect Julia Brownley. 

Californians make up a quarter of the freshman class of Democrats. Pelosi had hoped to win a few more seats in California to retake the House, and the Speakership, but the GOP still outnumbers Democrats by about 18 members. She told reporters, "we may not have the majority, we may not have the gavel.  But we have unity."

Two Republicans from California were elected to the House.

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Bilbray, Lungren congressional races still too close to call

Kitty Felde/KPCC

Congressman Dan Lungren (R)

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Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

Republican Congressman Brian Bilbray


It has been nearly a week since the election, but California still does not know who is going to Capitol Hill in two Congressional districts.

But California voters will be sending at least 11 new members of Congress to Washington, D.C.  That is nearly 20 percent of the delegation.

But two races are too close to call. 

In San Diego, incumbent Republican Congressman Brian Bilbray is trailing Democrat Scott Peters, a Port of San Diego Commissioner, by 1,300 votes, based on the latest count.  San Diego County is still counting mail-in and provisional ballots.

http://vote.sos.ca.gov/returns/us-rep/district/52/

Near Sacramento, incumbent GOP Congressman Dan Lungren is trailing his Democratic challenger, physician Ami Bera, by more than 1,700 votes.

http://vote.sos.ca.gov/returns/us-rep/district/7/

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