As we turn the corner from a tumultuous year and a new term in Congress begins, I’m putting ink to paper to directly communicate my thoughts on the events of the last couple of months, the reasons for my votes, and to clarify some of the misinformation that is being propagated.
As always I convey this message with a sense of humility and duty to represent this very purple district.
The election of 2020 in the 25th Congressional District proved our little district is truly a microcosm of the sentiment and demographics of this beautiful nation. We are split right down the middle on many things. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Diversity of thought is actually a good thing in a federal republic such as ours.
Unfortunately, social media has become the domain of vitriol from the extremes of both sides of the aisle. Social media warriors are now unencumbered by facts, and most Americans have realized the toxic nature of it.
It’s reached such a level of ridiculousness where people can accuse and get away with calling someone like myself, a combat veteran with nearly 20 years of service to our nation, as being a seditionist, a traitor, or even worse.
The overwhelming majority of Americans look forward to progress instead of division, solutions instead of bickering. In California, the average citizen is now trying to simply survive. We are in a state we all love, but can no longer afford to stay in. Right now, more than ever, we need “no drama” representation focused on the future for the purpose of saving our state and preventing our nation from becoming what California has become.
I represent a very purple district. Like an umpire in a baseball game, every decision and vote I make will please some and upset others. But in the end, my votes and principles are anchored only to the Constitution and the country. I have no blind loyalties to a party, to a president or to any individual. The extremes of the political spectrum will seek to paint rational actors in a light that actually weakens the fabric of our nation by seeking to marginalize the overwhelming majority of Americans. It is meant to dissuade good people from participating in the process. Worse yet, the far left seeks to not only win an election but also to personally destroy the opposition. This detrimental behavior is at the core of our nation’s challenges today.
We are never going to agree on everything, but I assure you that unlike typical politicians in Washington, you will never have to guess where I stand on an issue.
Let’s begin with the events on and surrounding Jan. 6:
1. Why did I object to any of the electoral votes? On Jan. 4, I released a statement explaining why I was objecting to the electoral votes from certain states. I clearly stated the objections were not an effort to overturn the election. The point of objecting was to highlight that several states violated their own election laws and the federal Constitution by changing the timing, methods and requirements of the elections without the consent of their respective state legislatures (as required by Article I, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution). By objecting, we would be able to open up the floor of the House to debate to explain how and why this precedence of violating the Constitution was dangerous. It was an opportunity to give a voice to Americans who believe the November elections were subject to fraud. Most importantly, it was a foundational debate to begin improving our election process with a goal of ensuring election integrity across the board.
2. Was objecting to the electoral votes constitutional? Yes, the objection to the electoral votes is in fact a constitutionally valid exercise and was conducted in almost every presidential election by both parties within the House since 2000. If it were not constitutional, Nancy Pelosi certainly would not have allowed the process to proceed as it did. This is important to understand because the far left has attempted to label those who objected to the electoral votes as seditionists and traitors rather than allowing a meaningful debate on the issue.
These assertions serve only as a testimony of the hate from the opposition. I have flown combat missions over Iraq and risked my life on a daily basis for nearly 20 years for our nation. I fought so they can have the freedom of speech to make these absurd accusations. But in the end, they are just that, absurd.
3. What are my thoughts on the riot on Jan. 6? As the events unfolded on the 6th, I personally witnessed the peaceful protests devolve into hundreds of people crossing police lines, breaking into the Capitol and ultimately breaking onto the floors of the Senate and the House. I immediately called for the rioters to stand down and cease their operations. I was heartbroken to see the damage and the loss of life that day. I immediately condemned it. I supported the peaceful protesters, not the folks who behaved illegally. The perpetrators inside the Capitol should be held accountable and prosecuted. I am heartbroken by the loss of life and I pray for the families of those who perished. These were unnecessary deaths.
4. Did you support the impeachment of President Donald Trump? No, I did not support the impeachment of President Trump. The rushed impeachment articles were no more than a political game.
Impeachment processes should be done over a matter of weeks, and definitely not hours. In the end, an impeachment vote should not be a “vote of the conscience.” It should be a vote based on evidence and substantiated assertions of high crimes and misdemeanors. Such proceedings should be based on evidence, testimony, committee hearings and due process underpinned by due diligence. This impeachment process had none of that and was a direct violation of the Constitution. It was a show trial and I voted against it. Had it been a Democrat president in a similar situation, I would have voted against that as well.
5. Can you identify issues where you have decoupled from the GOP? As I mentioned earlier, I have no blind allegiances to anyone or any party:
a. SALT Deduction Limits: While the 2017 tax cut bill was the catalyst for the booming economy over the last four years, it also included a $10,000 cap on state and local taxes (or SALT). I firmly believe this is completely unfair to Californians. We are the single largest contributor to the nation’s gross domestic product and we shouldn’t be penalized within the federal tax code. This is why my first piece of legislation is HR 202, The SALT Fairness Bill, which removes this deduction limit.
b. The renaming of Confederate bases: In short, I think if you lose a war (like the South did during the Civil War) you don’t get to have statues and bases named in your honor. We have plenty of American heroes we can pay tribute to in the naming of our Navy and Army bases, not secessionist Confederates who supported slavery. All this being said, the lawless tearing down of statues should be fully prosecuted.
c. The passage of the latest NDAA (defense bill): In early January, President Trump vetoed the bipartisan and bicameral National Defense Authorization Act because it did not address the issues around Section 230. I voted to override his veto and the NDAA ultimately passed. While I firmly believe we need to address Section 230, the NDAA was not the appropriate place to do it and there was not sufficient time to do it correctly. Holding up the defense bill would have only hurt our military and forced us to negotiate a new NDAA under Joe Biden. This scenario was not only bad for our nation’s security, but also would not have yielded any meaningful legislation for Section 230 reform. I remain committed to Department of Defense budgets above $750 billion and to meaningful reform of Section 230. They should not cannibalize each other.
d. Supporting the $2,000 COVID stimulus checks: I, along with less than 25% of my party, voted to support the $2,000 stimulus check. As a fiscal conservative, I am concerned about the cost of the COVID relief packages. But in the end, individuals and families desperately need and deserve the relief and $600 in California is a slap in the face. As we recover from COVID-19 we must immediately address our nation’s deficit spending and require Congress to pass a balanced budget on an annual basis.
6. What were your biggest achievements in 2020?
a. Standing up all field offices and fully staffing them in the first 45 days after my special election in May 2020.
b. In 2020, my team resolved more than 600 constituent case packages for people in the 25th District who needed help with Social Security, veterans benefits, COVID relief, passports, etc.
c. Nominated 25 students to military academies
d. Appealed to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and received two dozen additional medical professionals to the Antelope Valley hospital over Christmas when they were bursting at the seams with COVID patients
e. Fully supported law enforcement, first responders and our military.
f. Donated 10% of my salary every month to local charities and police foundations throughout the district.
g. Stood up to Southern California Edison and pushed to end these senseless PSPS power outages. These outages now officially pose a greater risk to the citizens of the district than do the fires and I remain committed to ending this practice with the full weight of my office.
7. Where are you on COVID relief?
a. I support the $2,000 stimulus checks for every man, woman and child. Six hundred dollars may be a lot in some states but it is nothing in Southern California. The government shut us down and we deserve more than $600.
b. We need more paycheck protection programs with clearly defined rules. PPP should be converted to a grant instead of a loan as long as the business and the need is legitimate.
c. We need to open the flood gates for the vaccine distribution points locally. I signed a resolution to ensure the vaccines are not wasted because of bad regulations and policies.
d. We need to open up our businesses, churches and schools as soon as possible. These lockdowns are hurting our businesses and our kids. Social distance, wear the mask, wash your hands, get the vaccine and quarantine when you are sick…these are the ingredients for successfully navigating this.
8. How are we going to pay all of the COVID bills? No one knows this answer yet. Our nation’s debt is now at $27 trillion. That’s about $85,000 for every man, woman and child in our nation. Our debt and deficit spending represents the single biggest threat to our nation’s security. Because of this, I cosponsored H.J.Res.3, The Balanced Budget Amendment, which requires Congress to pass a budget on an annual basis that spends less than it takes in. An amazingly simple concept and the only way we will get out of debt.
9. What are your thoughts on big tech and social media? I truly believe the nation and our children would benefit from abandoning most forms of social media. It has become an arena of the extremes and of hate. Further, I condemn the arbitrary censorship by Twitter and other social media companies. It is a dangerous precedent. They should enforce their rules (no hate speech, no threats, etc.) but they should not censor or ban users because they don’t align with their political values. In the end, I value free-market capitalism. Big tech has and will continue to lose business because of their recent decisions. Consumers have and will walk away.
10. What does “we need to unite” mean to you? Uniting doesn’t mean agreeing. But I believe we as a nation have an opportunity to stop looking at things through binary and extreme lenses. Just because someone doesn’t agree with you politically doesn’t mean you get to call them a traitor, a seditionist or a murderer. These are extreme accusations and constitute hate speech. Just because you don’t agree with a company’s policy doesn’t mean you riot or destroy their storefronts. Just because your neighbor or family member doesn’t belong to your political party doesn’t warrant writing them off or hating them. That’s not rational and it’s not productive. People chose to do so over the last year and it was wrong. In the end, I will fight for what I believe is right via meaningful debate, my writings, my speeches and with my vote. These are the appropriate tools for all Americans. Not violence or hate.
Uniting in 2021 means recognizing that our fellow Americans are not the true enemy. The two massive bears named Russia and China outside of our collective tent are the real enemies. And while we’ve been slaying each other on Facebook and Twitter over the last four years, those two bears have been eating and growing bigger and bigger.
Make no mistake, if I believe my political opponents’ policies are bad for our nation or our district, I will do everything legally in my power to fight that policy. But I will continue to do so with class and dignity. With honor and without hatred. With facts and data and not personal attacks or lies. With grace and conviction. With excellence and not arrogance.
If we all did this, we would be better for it.
Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita, represents the 25th Congressional District.