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AV Press: Garcia touts bipartisan work

Town hall covers wide variety of DC topics

Rep. Mike Garcia had a full house for an Antelope Valley town hall held Tuesday evening at the City of Hope Community Resource Center.
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Rep. Mike Garcia had a full house for an Antelope Valley town hall held Tuesday evening at the City of Hope Community Resource Center.

Garcia provided an update on his work in Washington and answered questions from the audience. He represents District 27, which includes the Antelope and Santa Clarita valleys.

“This is literally how we communicate with constituents,” Garcia said. “I learn more from you guys than I learn in DC at these town halls, frankly.”

Garcia introduced his staff and then got to the business part of the meeting.

“There’s a lot of drama right now in DC and hopefully what you’re seeing out of me is a focus on our district, our constituents and above all our security,” Garcia said. “I seek the truth and I seek the security of the nation.”

Garcia said he is one of the few Republicans in Congress willing to work on bipartisan legislation. When the Democrats held the House, he had 39 cross-party votes on major bills, including the Respect for Marriage Act.

“As a Republican, I wasn’t expected to necessarily vote for that,” Garcia said. “This wasn’t a codification of gay marriage at the federal level; the Supreme Court had already done that,” Garcia said. “The states in most cases had already legalized it, so what this was, was a recognition that gay couples have the same constitutional rights as straight couples as determined by the Supreme Court in what was called the Obergefell case.”

Garcia said he is all about security — economic, neighborhood, school, social, national and border security.

Economic security includes earmarks, or community project funding, that allows him to better ensure his district’s economic security. The congressman brought in a total of $54.4 million in community project funding since he joined Congress.

That includes $2 million for a mobile cancer screening van for the City of Hope.

“It’s going to go to the lower-income neighborhoods to do cancer screening,” Garcia said.  “This van is going to be saving lives.”

Requested projects for fiscal year 2024 include $2 million for the city of Lancaster’s Columbia Way (Avenue M) interchange project and $3 million for the Antelope Valley Paratransit Operations and Maintenance facility.

Garcia is in the bottom third in Congress in terms of seniority and the top third in terms of the dollar value of projects getting to the district. About one-third of the money comes to the Antelope Valley.

“We’ve got a fantastic team,” he said.

Garcia introduced the Inflation Prevention Act, which bars legislation that would be estimated to increase inflation until the year-over-year inflation rate drops below 4.5%.

Garcia reintroduced the SALT Fairness Act, which would repeal the state and local tax deduction cap included in the Trump-era GOP tax breaks as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

The plan placed a $10,000 cap on all federal deductions for state and local income, sales and property taxes. There was no cap previously. The cap hit homeowners in high-tax blue states like California and New York the most initially, although those in other states such as Texas are starting to be affected as well.

“This costs, on average, about $4,000 or $5,000 per constituent in our district, so it’s a big deal,”  Garcia said. “I’ve been very clear … that I won’t support any tax bill that doesn’t address the SALT initiative. My bill eliminates SALT cap; I’d be OK with a compromise position of doubling it, but I will not sign on to any tax bill, even with all the goodness of TCJA, unless it rectifies this problem.”

On the issue of Social Security and Medicare, Garcia said he would not support any bills that jeopardize Social Security benefits or Medicare.

“You have signed a contract with the US government,” he said. “The minute you provide a dollar into Social Security, you have solidified the terms and conditions of that contract with the government. The government cannot and should not change those terms while you’re in the middle of executing that agreement.”

Garcia has also been vocal on the need for better border security.

In 2022, there were 83 fentanyl-related deaths in Garcia’s district, including 54 in Lancaster and Palmdale. So far this year there have been 35 fentanyl-related deaths in the district.

“This is killing our kids,” he said “Fentanyl is coming across our southern border.”

Garcia’s constituent services include his office helping more than 500 constituents with passports so far this year. Since he took office in May 2020, Garcia’s local offices have closed more than 3,100 cases. Most of the casework, 52%, is for the Antelope Valley.

“Districtwide, we’ve helped constituents get $2.8 million back in their pockets,” he said.

He has also presented more than 250 medals to veterans.