Politics, government and public life for Southern California

California representatives split on Obama gun control proposals

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Congressman Adam Schiff of the Burbank/Glendale area is introducing a pair of bills - one to help victims of gun violence hold gun makers and sellers accountable for negligence, and one to crack down on straw purchasers of guns.

Congressional Democrats are lining up to keep gun control on the front burner following the Newtown school shootings. Just hours after President Barack Obama outlined his proposals, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California announced she’ll introduce her assault weapons ban bill next Thursday.

Congressman Adam Schiff of Burbank introduced a pair of bills — one to ensure that victims of gun violence have the same rights to hold gun makers and gun sellers accountable for negligence, and one to crack down on straw purchasers of guns. And nearly a dozen of California's congressional Democrats joined other Democrats at a special hearing on the impact of gun violence.

Contra Costa County Congressman Mike Thompson  said no set of laws will end these senseless acts of violence. "But that’s no excuse for sitting around and doing nothin’," he said. Thompson heads a House gun violence task force. He called the challenge complex, but said every idea "and everyone needs to be at that table in order for us to be successful."

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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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Some surprises among rating of CA lawmakers by Human Rights Campaign

Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack, who represents Palm Springs, was one of only two House Republicans who joined Defense of Marriage Act opponents on some legislation

The Human Rights Campaign has issued its annual Congressional scorecard on issues important to the gay, lesbian, and transgender community. A look at how California lawmakers fared shows some interesting results.

As expected, nearly all House Democrats from the Golden State agreed to co-sponsor every piece of legislation backed by the HRC, and voted up or down in ways the campaign approved; most California Republicans did not.

But there were exceptions.

The HRC didn’t like the House version of the Violence Against Women reauthorization because, unlike the Senate version, it doesn’t expand protections to partners in same-sex couples.  Democrats, by and large, voted against it, but so did GOP Congressmen Dana Rohrabacher of Huntington Beach and Tom McClintock of Lake Tahoe.

McClintock voted against it for reasons other than its exclusion of same-sex couple protection. On his website, McClintock blasts the legislation as "a feel-good measure that uses 'Violence Against Women' as an excuse to vastly expand a dizzying array of government grant programs, hamstring judges who are attempting to resolve and reconcile highly volatile relationships, add $1.8 billion to the nation’s debt and generally insinuate the federal government into matters the Constitution clearly reserves to the states."

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Hotly contested political races on Capitol Hill

US Representative Dana Rohrabacher

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U.S. Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) has his eye on the chairmanship of the House Science Committee.

It's election season in Congressional districts all over California where 53 seats are up for grabs. But some of those lawmakers are also scrambling for votes 3.000 miles away in Washington, DC.  They're trying to move up the leadership ladder.

California loses one powerful Republican leader next year when Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier retires. As a number of other House members step down, run for another office, or are defeated in the general election, several top jobs at House committees are opening up.

A pair of Orange County Congressmen are putting their names forward as committee chairmen, should the GOP retain control of the House.

Dana Rohrabacher of Huntington Beach has a great interest in international affairs.  He's been critical of Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, saying he heads "a corrupt clique."  President Karzai doesn't much like Representative Rohrabacher: he denied him entry to Afghanistan recently. 

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House vote on GOP immigration bill would allow more foreign-born grads to stay in US

Congresswoman Judy Chu

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U.S. Rep. Judy Chu of El Monte is fighting a proposed bill that would create a visa program for high-value college graduates at the expense of an existing visa program.

There are precious few hours before Congress leaves town until after the election. They still have a funding resolution to pass to keep the government going, and they'll name a few post offices. But there's also an immigration bill likely to get a vote Thursday — one sponsored by Republicans.

The bill by Republican Congressman Lamar Smith of Texas would make it easier for graduate students from foreign countries to remain in the United States after getting a degree. There's a catch: their major must be from one of the so-called "STEM" areas — science, technology, engineering, or math.  

Smith is chair of the House Judiciary Committee. His bill is designed to prevent the brain drain of foreign-born, U.S.-educated scientists and engineers who return to their home country because of the difficulty in obtaining work visas. Up to 55,000 visas would be designated for such candidates.

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