Gomez set­tling into D.C. rhythms

L.A.’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive in Congress says time in the state Assem­bly pre­pared him well.

Los Angeles Times - - CALIFORNIA - SARAH D. WIRE sarah.wire@la­times.com Twit­ter: @sarahd­wire

WASH­ING­TON — Los An­ge­les’ rep­re­sen­ta­tive in Congress, Jimmy Gomez, has lost five pounds since ar­riv­ing in Wash­ing­ton a month ago.

“I don’t know if that’s from stress or just from walk­ing,” he joked, say­ing he gained weight dur­ing his months-long cam­paign to re­place Xavier Be­cerra in a special elec­tion, and that he’s got an­other five pounds to go to get back to pre­cam­paign lev­els.

He fre­quently walks the third of a mile down a long, curv­ing un­der­ground tun­nel to the House cham­ber from his sec­ond-floor of­fice.

“My of­fice to the floor of the House is … a 10-minute walk, and I do that at least four times a day, there and back, and then to all the meet­ings around the Hill,” Gomez said. “It’s a lot of walk­ing.”

In the month since be­ing sworn in on July 11, the Demo­cratic con­gress­man has set­tled into the rhythm of life on Capi­tol Hill.

He’s still sleep­ing in ho­tels, or crash­ing on a friend’s couch, while he looks for a place to live.

“I’m not liv­ing in my of­fice, even though it’s re­ally nice,” Gomez said.

He’s slowly re­dec­o­rat­ing the large of­fice he in­her­ited from the far more se­nior Be­cerra, who re­signed af­ter two decades to be­come Cal­i­for­nia at­tor­ney gen­eral. He is ship­ping pho­tos he’s taken of L.A. land­marks, such as the Chinatown arch and the city’s sky­line. He laments that he hasn’t hung up a Dodgers logo, but one is com­ing next month.

“I’ve got to rep­re­sent,” he said.

As for the day-to-day leg­is­lat­ing in Wash­ing­ton, his six years in the Cal­i­for­nia Assem­bly pre­pared him well, he said.

Gomez, who was once chair­man of the Cal­i­for­nia Assem­bly’s pow­er­ful Ap­pro­pri­a­tions Com­mit­tee, has snagged as­sign­ments to the House Over­sight and Gov­ern­ment Re­form Com­mit­tee and the House Nat­u­ral Re­sources Com­mit­tee — plum com­mit­tees for the low­est-ranked mem­ber of Congress.

He sat where fresh­man mem­bers nor­mally do — in the front row fac­ing the au­di­ence — dur­ing his first Over­sight and Gov­ern­ment Re­form hear­ing in July. It was a 42-minute-long meet­ing to dis­cuss bills that would give cash awards to gov­ern­ment em­ploy­ees who iden­tify waste, man­age na­tional parks in Wash­ing­ton and find ways to speed up the back­log of ap­prov­ing na­tional se­cu­rity clear­ances.

Gomez filed his first piece of leg­is­la­tion, HR 3587, at the end of July. It would al­low in­tel­li­gence to be col­lected about for­eign ef­forts to in­flu­ence the pres­i­dent, his fam­ily or as­so­ciates through their fi­nan­cial in­ter­ests. Democrats have been ea­ger to look into Pres­i­dent Trump’s busi­ness ties, but the GOP has shown lit­tle in­ter­est. So far it has no co-spon­sors. Con­tro­ver­sial leg­is­la­tion filed by a fresh­man in the mi­nor­ity party faces an ex­tremely dif­fi­cult up­hill battle, but Gomez said he felt com­pelled to file it any­way.

“When I was run­ning for of­fice, what came through loud and clear through can­di­date fo­rums and talk­ing to vot­ers … [is] they want Congress to be a check on the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion,” Gomez said. “Is it a con­tro­ver­sial first bill? Yeah, but it’s what my con­stituents want.”

Gomez got a sense of what life is like in the mi­nor­ity party when he of­fered an amend­ment to the Depart­ment of De­fense’s an­nual ap­pro­pri­a­tions bill that would have pro­hib­ited depart­ment funds from be­ing used for the pres­i­dent’s elec­tion in­tegrity com­mis­sion, a group Cal­i­for­nia has re­fused to com­ply with.

Gomez said the House Rules Com­mit­tee wouldn’t al­low it to be con­sid­ered on the floor, a fairly com­mon oc­cur­rence in the pow­er­ful panel, which de­cides what amend­ments can be voted on.

“The ma­jor­ity here has a lot more lee­way than they do in the Leg­is­la­ture, but I’ve been en­joy­ing it,” Gomez said.

Gomez’s 34th Con­gres­sional District is one of the most di­verse in the coun­try and in­cludes down­town, Kore­atown and much of L.A.’s East­side. He’s been home ev­ery weekend so far and said he’s try­ing to be vis­i­ble in the district, at­tend­ing ral­lies for health­care, vis­it­ing cof­fee shops and go­ing to low-key events like a bird-watch­ing hike.

“I’m a mem­ber of Congress, but I’m also the friendly neigh­bor­hood mem­ber of Congress,” Gomez said.

As House mem­bers were cast­ing their fi­nal votes be­fore the month­long Au­gust re­cess be­gan, Gomez was ea­ger to get back across the coun­try.

“I can’t wait to eat the great food in Los An­ge­les,” he said.

Mar­cus Yam Los An­ge­les Times

REP. JIMMY GOMEZ (D-Los An­ge­les) gets a high-five on a visit to his 34th Con­gres­sional District, one of the na­tion’s most di­verse.

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