Politics ESSENTIAL POLITICS

This is Essential Politics, our daily look at California political and government news. Here's what we're watching right now:

Be sure to follow us on Twitter for more, or subscribe to our free daily newsletter and the California Politics Podcast.

State government

Gov. Jerry Brown heads to Washington as Trump and Republicans offer plans with big consequences for California

 (Gregory Bull / Associated Press)
(Gregory Bull / Associated Press)

Gov. Jerry Brown is headed to Washington amid increasing worry from state lawmakers that sweeping proposals from President Trump and congressional leaders will hit hard on Californians and several high-profile government programs.

The governor's four-day trip, which begins Monday, will be his first since Trump took office, and comes less than a week after Brown sharply criticized the president's proposed path forward on a key environmental policy.

“This is a chance to get a lay of the land in rapidly changing times,” said Evan Westrup, Brown’s press secretary.

While a number of prominent California Democrats have been continuously critical of Trump, Brown has carefully chosen his words and actions. The governor was complimentary of the president's team during the crisis at the Oroville dam, and Trump subsequently agreed to federal disaster declarations for that incident and in the wake of damage caused by the winter's massive storms.

"I'm sure California and Washington will work in a constructive way," Brown said last month after making one of the disaster requests.

The governor also submitted a lengthy wish list of transportation projects this winter, in the wake of the president's promise to launch a broad and well-funded effort to fund infrastructure projects.

But Trump has rarely held his own fire.

"We give tremendous amounts of money to California," Trump told Fox television host Bill O'Reilly in February. "California in many ways is out of control, as you know."

The state receives money from myriad federal programs. Some $105 billion in federal funds are expected in the state budget year that begins in July, about a third of total spending.

Westrup said the governor will likely huddle with members of the state's congressional delegation, especially fellow Democrats.

The only official item on his schedule as of Saturday was a meeting of directors for the nonpartisan Nuclear Threat Initiative. Brown joined the nonprofit's board in January.

He has taken a renewed interest in recent months in the danger of nuclear proliferation. "It's time to wake up America," the governor said at a January 2016 event resetting the so-called "doomsday clock" of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

But there are more immediate concerns. His visit will come just days before Republican leaders in Congress are expected to put their controversial healthcare plan up for a vote, a plan that could cut billions of dollars California uses for Medi-Cal, its health program for the poor. Brown is under increasing pressure to plan for the likely fiscal impact to the state.

And then there is his passionate defense of efforts to combat climate change. Last week, he criticized Trump's decision to ease off vehicle fuel standards. In a letter to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, he called the decision "an unconscionable gift to polluters."

The governor also may have an interest in making an in-person appeal to federal transportation officials, in the wake of a decision to delay a $647-million grant for commuter rail in the Bay Area. That project is key to Brown's dream of high-speed rail.

10:21 a.m.: This story was updated with additional details about Gov. Jerry Brown's trip to Washington, D.C.

This story was originally published at 11:42 a.m. on March 18.

Latest updates

Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times
56°