Two Californians who crossed their parties on immigration fight
It was a wild week in Washington, D.C., that included decisions by two California politicians to buck their parties, unusual moves in the nation’s highly partisan fight over immigration.
First California Sen. Alex Padilla split with President Biden in announcing his opposition to a bipartisan immigration proposal to tie foreign aid for U.S. allies with new restrictions on the flow of migrants across the southern border. Biden had asked the Senate to come up with the plan but Padilla said the $118-billion bill “misses the mark.” It was heavy on conservative priorities to restrict asylum and expedite deportations, and did not address progressive goals to create citizenship opportunities for millions of people in the country illegally.
In a case of odd political bedfellows, former President Trump also opposed the bill and it was dead within days of introduction. Trump sees immigration as a major issue in the 2024 presidential race, one he can use again Biden. Its demise was due largely to Republicans kowtowing to Trump and turning against the bill they had previously fought for. But Padilla’s bit part in the saga was intriguing to me because it put the Democratic senator in the unusual position of opposing a priority of the Democratic president — as Biden campaigns for reelection, no less.
Meanwhile in the other chamber, a California Republican helped tank a GOP priority to impeach Biden’s secretary of homeland security — something House Republicans have been trying to do since they nabbed the majority in 2022. Rep. Tom McClintock said he bucked his party to vote against impeaching Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas because it would cheapen the use of Congress’ most powerful punishment.
“It dumbs down the standard of impeachment to a point where it will become a constant fixture in our national life every time the White House is held by one party and the Congress by another,” McClintock told my colleague Sarah D. Wire. “That’s exactly what the American Founders feared, and that’s why they were very careful to specify narrow limits to its use.”
McClintock was one of four Republicans who voted against the impeachment, enough to torpedo it given the GOP’s very narrow majority.
Read more about these partisan defections in these articles:
- California Sen. Padilla splits with Biden on proposed immigration, foreign aid package
- How a California Republican helped tank Mayorkas’ impeachment vote
I’m Laurel Rosenhall, Sacramento bureau chief for The Times, delivering your guide to the week in California politics.
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An energetic new leader in Sacramento
“The Energizer Bunny of California politics.”
That’s how political science professor David McCuan described Mike McGuire, new leader of the California Senate, who was a student of his more than 20 years ago at Sonoma State.
My colleague Mackenzie Mays spent time with McGuire in his north coast district as he led elementary school students in the “wheelbarrow” dance, chatted with firefighters in a region ravaged by wildfires, and prepped for an evening of auctioneering.
Now McGuire, who was sworn in on Monday, must harness that energy as he takes on his biggest challenge yet — guiding the Legislature’s upper house as the state grapples with an estimated $38-billion budget deficit. The Senate leader plays a powerful role negotiating the state budget with the governor and the Assembly speaker, making it one of the most influential positions in state government.
At a swearing-in ceremony at the Capitol on Monday, McGuire vowed to “buckle down” and right the budget in the same way that Californians struggling financially are forced to “live within their means” and make sacrifices in their personal spending, Mays writes.
“We know that tough decisions lie ahead,” McGuire said in an emotional speech on the Senate floor that at times drove him to tears. “We are going to protect our progress.”
Super weird Super Bowl politics
Several conservative commentators announced that they plan to root for San Francisco, the liberal city they more typically vilify.
The nascent 49ers fans declaring their unlikely allegiance are sticking it to Taylor Swift, the pop star dating Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, who will be facing off against the 49ers on Sunday.
Swift has been at the center of a series of sprawling but unfounded right-wing conspiracies that allege she is somehow in cahoots with the NFL to hurt Donald Trump’s chances in the 2024 election and help reelect President Biden by, among other things, endorsing him during the Super Bowl. Swift endorsed Biden in 2020 but there is no evidence that she plans to make any political announcements at the big game this weekend.
Nonetheless the conspiracies led one conservative pundit to declare on Fox News that he’s “proudly supporting the San Francisco 49ers, America’s team.”
Democratic San Francisco Assemblymember Matt Haney told Wick that it was “a little strange to see people who usually hate San Francisco now cheering for San Francisco.”
“They hate Taylor Swift even more, I guess,” he said.
Gov. Gavin Newsom — former mayor of San Francisco and longtime 49ers fan — called the GOP criticism of Taylor Swift “sad and pathetic.”
He’s been traveling the country to stump for Biden. And no, he is not rooting for the Chiefs.
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