Essential Politics: State Senate committee moves to assist immigrants, what California’s members of Congress are saying about Trump’s executive order

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

  • California senators advanced three immigration-related bills Tuesday, including a proposal to fund legal aid for immigrants in the state who face deportation.
  • What has each member of California’s congressional delegation said about President Trump’s executive order on immigration? Find out your representative’s position here.
  • California’s congressional Democrats came out forcefully against Trump’s immigration directives over the weekend, while Republican members of Congress held their fire.

You can find our December news feed archive here.

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In the 2018 governor’s race, Gavin Newsom leads the pack in fundraising

Schwarzenegger: ‘We’re going through some difficult moments ... but I guarantee we will work our way out of this’

(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Tuesday that the United States had faced trying times and political crises before, and has always persevered.

“Yes, we’re going through some difficult moments right now, as we have in the past, but I guarantee we will work our way out of this,” Schwarzenegger said, speaking at an electoral reform event at the University of Southern California.

He recalled immigrating to the United States and seeing the violent protests at the Democratic National Convention in 1968, Watergate and the economic troubles during President Jimmy Carter’s tenure.

“One thing you can count on in America is even though it falls every so often — as we all do — it dusts itself off, gets up and gets going again,” Schwarzenegger said. “That is why … it’s the number one country in the world.”

Although Schwarzenegger did not mention President Donald Trump by name during his remarks, the comments appeared to be a reference to the turbulence since Trump took office less than two weeks ago.

Tensions between Schwarzenegger, who replaced Trump as the host of “Celebrity Apprentice,” and the new president and fellow Republican have been escalating. On Monday, Schwarzenegger called the implementation of Trump’s temporary ban on immigration from several Muslim-majority countries “crazy.” The previous week, Schwarzenegger slammed Trump’s pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, Oklahoma Atty. Gen. Scott Pruitt, as a hypocrite.

Earlier in January, Trump mocked Schwarzenegger for the first ratings of “Celebrity Apprentice” after the former governor took over as the host. During the presidential campaign, Schwarzenegger repeatedly made clear his disdain for Trump, pointedly casting his ballot in the California primary for Ohio Gov. John Kasich after he had dropped out.

On Tuesday, Schwarzenegger was headlining an event about redistricting reform at his namesake institute at USC. He did not respond to reporters’ questions after the event.

While governor, Schwarzenegger championed electoral reform, including an ultimately successful effort to take the redrawing of congressional and legislative districts away from politicians and give them instead to an independent commission.

Both political parties have long tried to use gerrymandering to create districts that favor their politicians.

But David Daley, author of “The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America’s Democracy,” argued that Republicans were able to make unprecedented changes in the 2010 redistricting that will have long-lasting effects on this nation’s politics because of a confluence of factors, including unprecedented technology such as mapping software, and a flood of anonymous money due to the Citizens United ruling.

“In 2010, gerrymandering enters its steroid era,” Daley said.

The end result, he said, was that while the nation remained relatively closely divided between the two parties, the GOP was able to exponentially expand its hold of statehouses, governor’s mansions and congressional seats.

Speakers urged Californians to take the lessons they had learned through the state’s redistricting reform and try to help voters apply them in other states, through the initiative, or legislative or legal systems.

“We are the model for the rest of the nation and that is why we in California have to do everything we can to pull together all the things that happen successfully in California and nationwide,” Schwarzenegger said. “Because the rest of the states are waiting for us.”

Top Democratic donor Tom Steyer is planning a larger role opposing President Trump

(Los Angeles Times)

On Sunday, Tom Steyer was holding a cardboard sign saying “not on my watch” at San Francisco’s airport, one of thousands protesting President Trump’s order preventing visitors from several predominantly Muslim countries.

“I went out there to participate, but also to listen,” he said.

Like other liberal leaders, he’s been hunting for the right approach to counter Trump. Now the deep-pocketed Democratic donor is launching a new effort that could expand the scope of NextGen Climate, the San Francisco-based organization he created and funded.

Although Steyer expects to stay active on environmental issues — the onetime hedge fund manager is best known for advocating stronger steps to fight climate change and support clean energy — he’s looking to play a more expansive role in opposing Trump.

“The number of issues that have to be addressed are broader,” he said in an interview, pointing to Trump’s statements on issues such as voting that he considers to be a broader attack on “fundamental American rights.” In a video posted on Tuesday night, Steyer says, “I promise to do everything in my power to stand up to Trump” and asks for the public’s thoughts on what next steps should be taken.

Steyer spent $74 million in the 2014 midterm election, and then millions more last year to support Hillary Clinton and other Democrats. Although results have been mixed — Republicans gained ground in both years — Steyer said the experiences have positioned NextGen to educate and mobilize voters across the country.

“There are very few people who are set up organizationally to do what we’re trying to do,” he said.

Steyer has already played a role in opposing Trump’s nominees, running advertisements criticizing his choice for secretary of State, former Exxon Mobil Chief Executive Rex Tillerson.

Besides simply fighting Trump, Steyer also hopes to project an alternative view of the country — one that comes with a dose of California sunshine.

“America can pursue a much more optimistic, a much more prosperous, a much more equitable and a much healthier future,” he said.

At CNN town hall, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi calls Trump ‘reckless’ for refugee ban

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) called President Trump “reckless” and his administration “incompetent” Tuesday night for his executive order last week banning refugees and visa holders from seven countries from entering the United States.

Pelosi was participating in a CNN town hall and responding to a question from a Yemeni woman whose mother cannot enter the country, when she said, “Your family is suffering because our president is reckless.”

You can see the full exchange below along with some other highlights from the town hall.

Former aide is preparing to run for Rep. Grace Napolitano’s seat if she retires

Rep. Grace Napolitano (Bill Clark / CQ Roll Call)
Rep. Grace Napolitano (Bill Clark / CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-Norwalk), who turned 80 last year, has not made plans to retire. But one San Gabriel Valley politician is raising funds to run in case Napolitano does decide to bow out after 10 terms in Congress.

Mary Ann Lutz, the former mayor of Monrovia and a former aide to Napolitano, reported having $101,000 in the bank to run for Napolitano’s 32nd Congressional District seat, according to a new filing with the Federal Election Commission.

But Lutz says she will run only if Napolitano retires.

“I have enormous respect for my former boss, Congresswoman Grace Napolitano, and would never run against her for any office,” Lutz said in a statement. “In the event that the 32nd Congressional District seat eventually opens up, I plan to run, and run aggressively.”

Napolitano suffered a minor stroke last February that affected her ability to write and slightly slowed her walk.

She continued her reelection campaign and beat state Assemblyman Roger Hernandez (D-West Covina), who effectively ended his campaign in August after a judge granted his ex-wife’s request for a domestic violence restraining order against him.

During an interview with The Times a day before the November election, Napolitano said the health of her 90-year-old husband would be a key factor in her decision on whether to run for an 11th term in 2018.

“I would love to stay but it depends,” she said. “I will be ready to hang it up when I am ready.”

Lutz was elected in 2003 to the City Council in Monrovia, a city of 36,000 in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, and was elected mayor in 2009. She lost her reelection bid in 2015 and went on to work for Napolitano as an advisor on water issues.

Lutz raised $26,000 and loaned her campaign committee an additional $75,000. Napolitano has $144,692 in the bank if she wants to run again.

Repeat challenger to Xavier Becerra enters race to replace him in Congress

Villaraigosa raises a quick couple of million dollars for his gubernatorial campaign

State Senate committee votes in favor of funding legal aid for immigrants in California facing deportation

(John Moore / Getty Images)

A state legislative bill seeking to expand legal services for immigrants in the U.S. illegally moved out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday on a 5-2 vote. The bill, introduced by state Sen. Ben Hueso (D-San Diego), would create a legal defense program funded with state money that would provide lawyers for immigrants caught in deportation or removal proceedings.

It comes roughly three years after the Unaccompanied Undocumented Minors program began providing state-funded legal services for young refugees fleeing gang violence in Central America.

Hueso said the measure faced new urgency given President Trump’s executive orders last week on immigration.

“This is a bill protecting Californians, protecting their families, but also protecting California’s economic prominence,” Hueso said. “I hope we can all stand united on this and say, ‘Yes, we stand by our immigrant community in California.’”

Members of the committee raised concerns about whether it whittled away at defense services available for detainees convicted of certain crimes — and over how the state would be able to afford it amid a looming deficit and budget cuts from the federal government.

“It is well-meaning, but it is a whole different agency that we are setting up in an expedited way,” Sen. Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) said.

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California assemblyman wants state to make cleaner purchases

(Alexis Cuarezma / For The Times)

A California lawmaker wants state officials to consider greenhouse gas emissions when making new purchases, a proposal that would add a new wrinkle to the bidding process for government contracts.

Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) said the legislation (AB 262) would “harness the state’s enormous buying power to support clean manufacturing.”

The measure, which includes state agencies and university systems, would affect the purchase of materials such as asphalt, cement, steel and glass for projects such as hospitals, dormitories and roads.

Companies bidding on state contracts would be required to report greenhouse gas emissions generated by the manufacturing and transportation of supplies. Officials would then factor that information into their decision.

Given California’s goal of slashing emissions, Bonta said he hopes that the legislation “puts the state’s money where its values are.” He doesn’t expect the requirement to report more information would be a significant burden on companies seeking contracts.

“This will just be one more piece of information that will need to be added,” he said.

John Chiang rakes in $4.2 million for his gubernatorial campaign, keeps spending to a minimum