From public safety to possible stimulus checks and the future of schools reopening, Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita, provided Thursday a recap of his first 60 days in office with his constituents during a tele-town hall.
Just more than two months ago, the congressman joined the House to represent California’s 25th Congressional District. Before his start, the district had not had a representative for months, following the sudden resignation of former Rep. Katie Hill last fall.
The result: An extensive constituent caseload and an eight-month backlog of constituent services, which Garcia said was first on his priority list for his mid-May start. He and his team “accelerated rapidly up the learning curve” and managed to tackle the task, he said Thursday.
“I asked my team that, within the first 60 days of us starting, that we reduce that backlog by 25%,” said Garcia. “As soon as we got the lights on, (we) checked all the emails and voicemails. So, I’m proud to say they’ve done that; they’ve been working through this casework diligently and with a very good personal touch.”
He has also set up three field offices across his district, located in Valencia, Palmdale and Simi Valley, which offer services such as help connecting with federal agencies, grant opportunities, military academy nominations and setting up tours at the U.S. Capitol. Besides housekeeping items, Garcia said he has a “commitment and a dedication to public safety.”
On legislation, Garcia co-sponsored the Just and Unifying Solutions to Invigorate Communities Everywhere, or JUSTICE Act, a police-reform bill looking to add about a dozen new requirements in policing following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on Memorial Day.
“Right now, more than ever, we need to be doubling down on protecting our communities and making sure that we’re supporting our law enforcement officers,” he said. “Defunding the police right now in this area is the absolute worst thing that we can be doing. We need to be investing in them.”
Schools in Los Angeles County are likely to continue online classes for the remainder of the year, following Gov. Gavin Newsom’s latest directive, but Garcia said local, private and public schools can put together mitigation plans to implement physical distancing, outdoors instruction and limit attendance.
“Kids need to be physically together, they need to be in the classroom. Socializing is good for their mental health, for their academics,” he said, adding that, for now, “We need to be able to have charter schools, private schools, homeschooling as an option.”
Garcia said there is potential for a second round of stimulus checks, but individuals probably will not receive the same amount as the first round, which put an income cap of $75,000 for individuals.
A potential second set of checks is still on the table, with legislation still in the drafting stages on Friday.