Garamendi still waits on committee assignments

John and Patty Garamendi on Election Night in Walnut Creek.

John and Patty Garamendi on Election Night in Walnut Creek.

With health care and other pressing legislative issues on the House of Representatives’ agenda, newly sworn-in Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, has not yet been assigned committees.

Garamendi told me a few minutes ago, as he said throughout his campaign, he hopes House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic leadership team will place him on the House Transportation Committee. Northern California has no representative on the committee.

But beyond transportation, Garamendi is not publicy expressing his preferences. He has expertise and interest in numerous policy areas, but as the lowest-seniority member, he will not have his pick of assignments.

“Most of the focus by the leaders, Nancy and others, is on the health care bill right now,” Garamendi said. “I did talk with preliminarily with (Rep.) George Miller about the need for a Northern California representative on the transportation and infrastructure committee.”

He described his first day in Congress as a “great day. Very busy. It was very good.”

The health care vote has been put off until the weekend. But he cast votes on bills that, among other things, extended the homebuyers’ tax credit.

Pelosi swore him into office just after noon in Washington, D.C. His wife, Patty, his six children and seven of  his grandchildren watched from the viewing gallery or the floor. Children age 10 and under are permitted to sit on the floor. (Two of the grandkids had to stay home; they have the flu.)

Garamendi plans to return to California and participate in Veteran’s Day ceremonies in the district next week but he said it will depend on the House voting schedule.

A vote on health care legislation is expected to take place on Saturday if lawmakers settle on language related to restricting the use of federal dollars for abortion and illegal immigrants.

Lisa Vorderbrueggen