Represent! | Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Code words change in Congressional immigration debate

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra talks about Senate immigration debate
Kitty Felde

The U.S. Senate continues its debate on immigration reform, after getting 82 votes Tuesday to move the bill forward. But the language of the debate has changed.

Immigration foes used to label the path to citizenship for those who entered this country illegally as "amnesty." Now, they talk about there being no path forward until the border is secure.

Congressman Xavier Becerra, one of the seven members negotiating a House bill, says at least opponents are focused on something that is real. The L.A. Democrat says he has no problem discussing border security, but "you can be excessive when it comes to enforcement to the degree that you're no longer getting any return for that extra dollar spent."

Becerra says there's a difference between being tough on enforcement, and being unreasonable: "I'm not interested in being mean just for the sake of being political."

Texas GOP Senator John Cornyn has proposed an amendment requiring that 90 percent of illegal border crossings be stopped before those on the path to citizenship get green cards. Becerra says holding those individuals responsible for the federal government's job of securing the border makes no sense.


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Take me out of the Capitol ... to the old ballgame

Rookie Congressman Raul Ruiz will play third base for the Democrats.

Forget that brawl at Dodger Stadium Tuesday night. It could get real ugly in Washington Thursday night when the Congressional baseball teams take the field for their annual game.

It's Democrats vs. Republicans, with California well represented. There are five rookies from the Golden State, and an 11-year veteran — the only woman on the Democratic squad.

The Californians bring a range of experience to the field. Palm Springs Democrat Raul Ruiz says he grew up playing in Little League. Redding Republican Doug LaMalfa played on a softball team  when he was in the state legislature. Lakewood Democrat Linda Sanchez is the veteran. She played fast pitch softball for about 15 years before coming to Congress. But David Valadao, a Central Valley Republican, says he's never played.

LaMalfa says he's heard Democrats have a hot pitcher who's shut down the GOP two years in a row. Not this year, he says: "You go out there, play the game, stick the bat out, see what happens, right?"

Pinch-hitting Sanchez has played the Congressional game for more than a decade. She tells freshmen it's a good way to meet lawmakers not on their committees — and even mingle with the Senators who put on a glove: "And when you play together as a team, there is this sense of comraderie and esprit de corps."

How seriously do they take the game? Well, there have been 7 a.m. practices, which physician Raul Ruiz — the Democrats' third baseman — says have taken their toll: "We've got pulled hamstrings and pulled calves." He admits he's pulled something himself.

It's a baseball tradition to try to hide the least experienced player somewhere he'll do the least damage. Valadao admits they've put him in left field, but he says it's all for a good cause: "We're raising money for the Boys and Girls' Club."

The 52nd annual game begins after votes, down the street from the U.S. Capitol, at Nationals Park. The Republicans lead the all-time series 38-36. There's been one tie. If that happens again, does Vice President Joe Biden get to declare the winner? 


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Maven's Morning Coffee: police chief won't run for sheriff, calls for changes in campaign finance, LA County terminates foster care contract

Long Beach police chief Jim McDonnell has decided not to run for county sheriff, saying the time it would take him to fundraise who take him away from his family and policing duties.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez/KPCC

Good morning, readers. Welcome to the Maven's Morning Coffee -- a listing of the important headlines, news conferences, public meetings and announcements you need to know to fuel up and tackle your day.

The Maven's Morning Coffee is also available as a daily email. Click here to subscribe.

Today is Wednesday, June 12, and here is what's happening in Los Angeles:


Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell will not run for Los Angeles County sheriff next year, according to the Los Angeles Times. "It would have been a year and a half ahead of me of fundraising and politicking," McDonnell says.

A Los Angeles Times editorial looks at a campaign finance rule that does not allow candidates to carry over money from a primary election to the runoff. "Candidates spend more than a year raising the money for the first round of an election and then, if forced into a runoff, have to immediately plunge back into fundraising. That leaves them less time to talk with voters," according to The Times.


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Labor leader doesn't regret backing Greuel over Garcetti, says it's time to talk about policies

Maria Elena Durazo, seen here at a rally at the Santa Monica Car Wash, told Town Hall Los Angeles her mission is to bring full-time workers out of poverty and into the middle class.
Grant Slater/KPCC

In her first speech since her candidate for Los Angeles Mayor was defeated, the head of the powerful Los Angeles County Federation of Labor told an audience of civic leaders Tuesday they need to close the city's growing economic divide.

“There’s an ever-widening gap in L.A. between the very wealthy and the workers who create that wealth," Durazo said at a lunchtime gathering of the group Town Hall Los Angeles.

Away from the podium, reporters asked her about Wendy Greuel's loss to Eric Garcetti in the race for mayor, despite $425,000 in spending by Durazo's group.

“Look, if I could predict ahead of an election what’s going to happen, that would be great. I’m not going to go back and try to undo what the process was at the time," she said. "We did what we did based on what the relationships were at the time between the candidates and the various unions.”


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Democrat lawmakers to unveil more details of budget deal

California Gov. Jerry Brown. (Photo: Gov. Brown at a news conference at Google headquarters on September 25, 2012 in Mountain View).
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The so-called Big Three — Democratic legislative leaders and Governor Brown — planned to hold a press conference Tuesday afternoon to detail the budget deal they reached.

The most significant development was the compromise lawmakers achieved on a new funding formula for K-12 schools that directs more funds towards disadvantaged students.

Under the plan all school districts will get an increased base grant, plus a supplemental per-pupil grant for students who are either English learners, low-income or in foster care.  Districts where 55 percent of the students fall in that category will get an extra  “concentration grant” to help educate them.

Under the plan all school districts will see funding restored to pre-recession levels.

Legislative leaders had proposed to spend $2 billion more than the governor — based on the legislative analyst’s more optimistic revenue projections.  In the compromise deal, however, they agreed to craft the budget based on the Brown Administration's projections for the state budget.  In turn, the governor granted legislators some modest spending increases for programs:  


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