New Faces in Congress is a diary series meant to highlight our new and diverse members of Congress in the Democratic Party. These 36 House freshmen range from political neophytes to seasoned legislative veterans. The series will run every Sunday morning, bright and early.
Last week, the New Faces in Congress series continued with a profile on Rep. Summer Lee from Pennsylvania’s 12th district. If you missed it, feel free to click on this link to read all about her!
Each new Congress, the freshmen legislators pick a president, or leader amongst them. This particular legislator has the honor of being the freshmen class president for the 118th Congress. That must mean he has some serious political skills, which happens to be the case. He’s already been very active in Congress as well.
How did this freshman legislator get to Congress? Well, California lost a district for the first time in history. The Long Beach seat was merged with a seat in Los Angeles, and both members of Congress in the combined seat retired. California uses a Top 2 primary system, which pitted this legislator against another Democratic candidate for the right to move on. He passed the test with flying colors!
Today, the spotlight is on Rep. Robert Garcia!
Want to help the freshmen members of Congress like Robert Garcia? Please donate to the New Faces in Congress Fund on ActBlue!
Rep. Robert Garcia (California-42)
Donate | House Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Rep. Robert Garcia has a unique biography, as both his campaign website and official House website can attest to. As an LBGTQ+ immigrant, he can bring a different perspective to the halls of Congress than most of his peers.
Congressman Robert Garcia is a career educator, who served two terms as the Mayor of Long Beach, California.
Congressman Garcia immigrated to the United States as a young child and was raised in Southern California, becoming a proud U.S. citizen in his 20's. He holds an M.A. from the University of Southern California and an Ed.D. in Higher Education from Cal State Long Beach, where he also earned his B.A. in Communications.
He sat in the Stonewall Inn, reflecting on being an LGBTQ+ immigrant and on the fight for their rights.
U.S. Rep. Robert Garcia carried a protestor's spirit into Pride Month this year, aware that in spite of the annual parades and celebrations that bring some levity to the moment, many queer and trans people stand fearful of the future right now as far-right, anti-LGBTQ rhetoric seeps into mainstream.
"Our community's under such attack — especially our trans community and our young people," the 45-year-old congressman tells PEOPLE. "We've got to get back to those Pride roots, especially now, in this moment."
He was mayor of Long Beach during the COVID pandemic, and had to right the ship during major personal tragedies.
After losing both his mom, a health care worker, and stepfather to COVID-19, Robert vowed to work as hard as he could to ensure other families wouldn’t experience the same pain. He threw himself into expanding Long Beach’s mobile testing and vaccination efforts — programs that went on to receive national recognition from health experts and praise from the White House and Governor Newsom. Long Beach was the first city in California to vaccinate educators – allowing Long Beach Unified to reopen schools before most other districts — and the first city to vaccinate 99% of its senior population. The New York Times profiled the city’s vaccination efforts, calling it “a national model.”
Here is a little more about his personal life:
He is married to Matthew Mendez Garcia, a professor of political science at California State University, Long Beach, and is proud to serve as the first openly LGBTQ foreign-born member of Congress. A self-admitted comic book nerd, Garcia credits comics with helping him learn to read and write English.
This introductory ad summarizes his background and his priorities as mayor of Long Beach. If walls of text aren’t your thing, this video should do!
Rep. Robert Garcia is another instance of an immigrant to this country becoming an American success story. From humble beginnings, he has made it into the exclusive club known as Congress, and he has even been recognized as a leader.
Notable Media Headlines
There is no shortage of media appearances and news clippings for Rep. Robert Garcia. He has become a go-to voice for multiple media outlets, and his work in Congress has been fully noticed. The notoriety started very early at his swearing in, where he took the oath on something very unique.
This week, Congressman-elect Robert Garcia (D-Calif.) made some news by announcing he will (eventually!) swear himself in on a copy of the Constitution, a photo of his late parents, his certificate of U.S. citizenship and ... a copy of Superman #1, on loan from the Library of Congress.
His first media appearance was very early on, where he pointed out that in order to be Speaker, Kevin McCarthy gave away everything to the far-right flank of the House.
Also early on, Rep. Robert Garcia pushed to expel fellow Rep. “George Santos” from the House. He even used a procedure known as a privileged resolution in order to force a vote. Unfortunately, Speaker McCarthy punted the matter to the House Ethics Committee instead of doing something.
Now, it won't be so easy: The resolution now goes to the House Ethics Committee for further action. Those processes tend to take quite a while. "If this doesn't leave House Ethics or McCarthy chooses not to move this onto the floor for a vote, then there's other ways — now that this has started — for us to force this onto the floor," Garcia told reporters, adding House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries is aware of their efforts.
He shared his thoughts with MSNBC later on about the whole saga.
Next, Garcia shared his thoughts on how the January 6th defendants were being treated in jail. Instead of the deplorable conditions many on the right claimed, Garcia claims that they were treated like celebrities.
More recently, Garcia let loose this zinger after Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene displayed nude images of Hunter Biden for an Oversight Committee hearing with IRS “whistleblowers”.
These are just scratching the surface of the news and media appearances he has made. His House website has many news articles and choice clips that I could not cover in order to shorten this section. You’ll have to take my word for it! Follow him on Xitter (‘shitter’) to get all of his more recent appearances.
Bills and Legislative Priorities
Rep. Robert Garcia is rather prolific on social media, which makes this section a little more difficult to write. Even with that handicap, these are some of the bills he has written in Congress. None of these have a good shot at passing the GOP majority sadly.
Clean Shipping Act
Congressman Robert Garcia (CA-42) today introduced the “Vehicle Rental Order Obligation Mandate (VROOM) Act,” which would require rental car companies who cannot fulfill a confirmed reservation to compensate the customer.
Rental car companies are currently under no obligation to compensate the customer when they cannot fulfill a confirmed reservation, unlike when an airline overbooks.
Garcia is joined by cosponsors Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), David Trone (MD-6), Emanuel Cleaver, II (MO-05), Nikki Budzinski (IL-13), Henry C. "Hank" Johnson, Jr. (GA-04). Text of the bill can be found here.
Under the bill, consumers would have the choice of receiving double the daily confirmed rate – up to $500/day – an upgrade at no additional charge to the consumer, or a downgrade with a refund for the price difference.
Act to Remove Parking Minimums
Rep. Robert Garcia, a California Democrat and the former mayor of Long Beach, plans to introduce a bill early next week to ban minimum requirements for parking spaces near transit hubs, he said on Wednesday.
The legislation aims to promote housing density and walkability in urban areas by getting rid of requirements that developers provide a certain amount of off-street parking with every project.
"We know that parking raises the cost of housing immensely," Garcia told Insider on Wednesday. "We need to create cities and communities that are more walkable, that are more multimodal friendly."
Garcia is a part of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which tends to consist of the more liberal members of our entire House membership. Included in this is support for Medicare for All and the Green New Deal.
Garcia was a reluctant YES in the Bipartisan Debt Ceiling Deal, citing the need to avoid default as the #1 reason for this position.
Rep. Robert Garcia had some harsh words for the Extreme Court decisions at the end of June. Sadly, his statements are only on Twitter.
Rep. Robert Garcia will continue to work as a legislator, even though many of his priorities will have to wait until the Democratic Party regains the majority in the House and retains it in the Senate. He has a grand total of 19.7k followers on the dying social media platform Twitter, which is a nice robust amount.
Rep. Robert Garcia came to Washington, D.C. to work. He has little patience for the political games that the GOP is playing, instead writing and introducing many bills that he hopes will pass Congress eventually. He combines affirmational legislation such as Medicare for All and the Green New Deal with smaller bills that aim to support the people in his district.
I barely scratched the surface with the news he has generated and the countless number of media appearances he has made. MSNBC in particular seems to love having him on — whether it is about Rep. “George Santos” or the ridiculousness of the House Oversight Committee. Garcia will continue to be a dominant media presence amongst the freshman class even as he builds more seniority.
California is likely to lose more districts in the future, which may impact the longevity of Garcia’s stay in Congress. If he is combined with another incumbent, all bets are off in terms of who will survive. That will be a problem in 2032 though, and he can wait until then to see how the redistricting cards are dealt. He probably won’t run for higher office anytime soon, as California has so many Democratic candidates on the bench that even he would struggle to make waves.
It is obvious now why Rep. Robert Garcia was chosen as freshman class president. He has the tools to succeed in both the realm of the media and inside the halls of Congress.
Next week, I will profile Rep. Becca Balint of Vermont. See you then!
Rep. Robert Garcia (California-42)
Donate | House Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Please help our Democratic freshmen in the 118th Congress raise more funds with the New Faces in Congress Fund. Until election day in 2024, we plan to regularly add new names to our list of recipients. Please share a link to this site on your social media!