The largest congressional delegation in the country will play an even more outsize role in Washington over the next four years as California’s 55 members work to battle or bolster President-elect Donald Trump’s agenda.
Dominated by Democrats, and representing a state that overwhelmingly voted for Hillary Clinton in November, California’s 41 Democrats and 14 Republicans are in a unique position.
The policies Trump laid out during the campaign, and since he won the election, don’t fit into traditional Democrat or Republican agendas, and he’s contradicted himself many times, leaving California members unsure what governing with the Republican will really be like.
While Democrats have begun preparing to challenge Trump and the GOP on immigration, the environment and the Affordable Care Act, some also are talking about the issues they expect to be able to work with him on, such as building up the nation’s infrastructure.
For some of the Republicans in the delegation, it’s also complicated.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) supported others over Trump during the primary and criticized him when his years-old lewd comments surfaced on an “Access Hollywood” tape. Democrats tried (and failed) to tie Central Valley Reps. Jeff Denham (R-Turlock) and David Valadao (R-Hanford) to Trump in hopes of unseating them, but during the campaign neither had good things to say about the man who would go on to win the White House. Denham in particular has been more moderate on immigration issues given the demographics of his district, so his response to Trump could make for an interesting year.
Here are seven California members from both parties who are expected to be central to the coming fights.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi
As one of the country’s most visible Democrats, and the Republicans’ go-to opponent, Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) will likely be front and center for nearly every fight between Democrats and the Trump administration.
She already is speaking against potential Republican plans to change Medicare and the Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare.
“We will not stand by while Republicans dismantle the promise of a healthy and dignified retirement for working people in our country,” she said at a Capitol Hill news conference. “We are going to mobilize, expose and defeat Republicans’ deeply damaging scheme to end Medicare.”
She won’t be alone. Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-Palm Desert), a former emergency room doctor, said repealing the Affordable Care Act without a new plan for healthcare in place is unacceptable. He wants a seat at the table if changes are going to be made.
“I’m going to fight tooth and nail to make sure we don’t un-insure millions,” Ruiz said.
Pelosi has said she’s interested in working with Trump on infrastructure legislation, programs for blue-collar workers and expanding paid family leave, saying that “we have responsibility to find common ground,” but that Democrats will “stand our ground when we can’t.”
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy
As the Republicans’ leader in the House, Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) will have the dual duty of balancing the Trump administration’s plans with the expectations of the moderate and more conservative sections of his party.
McCarthy has tried to temper expectations built up in part by the Trump transition team that the Republican-led Congress will immediately be ready to repeal Obama’s signature healthcare law. Instead, the process likely will take a year or two and is much more complicated than sending a bill to the president’s desk. One idea being floated is for Congress to pass legislation that would end the program at a set future date, giving members a deadline to replace it.
Earlier this month, McCarthy reached out to governors and insurance commissioners for ideas, saying in a statement, “Obamacare is crumbling under its own weight and seriously harming people in the process. With a unified Republican Congress and administration, we have the opportunity to repeal this law and undertake major health care reforms.”
McCarthy also has had to tiptoe around some of Trump’s recent statements, including the president-elect’s threat to impose a 35% tariff on imported goods from U.S. companies that move factories abroad.
Rep. Adam Schiff
As the highest-ranking Democrat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) likely will be in the middle of any investigations into foreign influence on the 2016 election.
Intelligence agencies have determined that Russia was behind the hacking of emails from political parties and campaign officials during the election. A secret CIA assessment also found the stolen information was released with the intent of helping Trump win the election, an analysis Trump since has called ridiculous.
Schiff, who is a frequent guest on cable news and the Sunday news shows, already has criticized the president-elect’s willingness to disregard the intelligence agencies.
“It means that when it doesn’t suit him, he will ignore it. He will decide to choose his own facts,” Schiff said on MSNBC last week.
Several House and Senate committees have announced plans to hold hearings, and many California members also are calling for an independent, nonpartisan investigation.
Rep. Devin Nunes
House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Tulare), who is serving on Trump’s transition team, had a big hand in Trump’s choice of Rep. Mike Pompeo to lead the CIA.
Nunes’ committee could also play a major role in how the House investigates alleged Russian meddling in the presidential campaign that ended in Trump’s election.
So far, he has dismissed calls for the committee to open an investigation into Russian ties to the election, saying it would duplicate the intelligence community’s efforts. But he also said the committee “is vigorously looking into reports of cyberattacks during the election campaign.”
And he has asked intelligence officials for clarification about why the CIA is now reporting Russian hacks during the election had the goal of helping elect Trump. Nunes has pointed to previous testimony from National Intelligence Director James Clapper in which he indicated intelligence officials did not have enough evidence to prove that. The officials refused a request for a briefing this week, which he said was “unacceptable.”
Along with his work on the transition team, Nunes has said he hopes to work with Trump on reforming the tax code and the Affordable Care Act.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher
Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) was floated as a possible candidate for secretary of State before Trump picked Exxon Mobil Chief Executive Rex Tillerson. Rohrabacher’s take on Russia, and his longtime willingness to be a vocal advocate for Russian President Vladimir Putin, still could make him a key Trump ally on Capitol Hill.
The former speechwriter for President Reagan is chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats Subcommittee. In recent weeks, he has defended Trump and his interest in working with Russia in opinion pieces and contentious cable news interviews.
“I’m the person in Congress who most closely associates himself with the same foreign policy concepts that Donald Trump has,” Rohrabacher said. “So I can help in the Foreign Affairs Committee.”
Rohrabacher, long an advocate of legalized marijuana use, said he’s also planning to make a pitch for why the Trump administration shouldn’t interfere in states like California that have legalized recreational or medicinal use of the drug. Trump’s attorney general pick, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), opposes legalization.
“It’s a tremendous waste of resources,” Rohrabacher said. “The people voted for that, and the states should have the right to make the determination, and our Constitution is very clear on that point.”
Sen.-elect Kamala Harris
Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) has repeatedly vowed to be a loud, supportive voice for immigrants, pledging to push for comprehensive immigration reform and to push against Trump’s pledge to deport millions of people in the country illegally.
“California’s voice must be a voice of leadership in Washington, D.C.,” the state’s current attorney general told reporters after speaking with a group of immigrant rights advocates, law enforcement officials, religious groups and business leaders at the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce earlier this week. “We have an outsized stake in the outcome of the conversation about immigrants.”
She, too, will be joined by a host of her California colleagues disturbed by the rhetoric about immigrants during the campaign.
Dozens of California House members have pleaded with President Obama to pardon or at least protect the personal information of the nearly 750,000 people granted deportation deferrals under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein
Recently named the highest-ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) will play a major part in how Trump’s judicial nominees are vetted.
The committee will hold hearings on the hundreds of judicial nominations Trump is expected to make over the next four years, including for Supreme Court positions.
“When President-elect Trump is willing to support responsible policies and nominees, I’ll hear him out, but this committee has a vital role to protect the Constitution and scrutinize policies, senior officials and judges very carefully, and that’s what we intend to do,” Feinstein said in a statement.
Feinstein already has asked to delay the Jan. 10 committee hearing on Sessions, Trump’s pick for attorney general, saying she needs more time to read the nomination documents. Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) dismissed her request, saying this week they will move forward as planned.
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Read more about the 55 members of California’s delegation at latimes.com/politics
8:35 a.m. This article was updated with additional information about Rep. Devin Nunes.
This article was originally published at 2 a.m.