John In The News
Garamendi, 64, graduated from UC Berkeley in 1966 with a degree in business and was a second team all-American football player as an offensive guard. As lieutenant governor, Garamendi serves as an ex-officio member of the UC Board of Regents where he has opposed student fee increases and pushed for the implementation of a state oil-extraction tax as a means to fund higher education.
Garamendi easily won Tuesday’s special election to replace Ellen Tauscher. She left Congress to work in the State Department. Garamendi thanked Walnut Creek voters for their support. ... Capitol insiders expect Garamendi to join the House Transportation Committee. It’s gearing up to debate a major funding bill for roads and transit.
His arrival is very welcome timing for the Democrats. Pelosi needs his vote on her health care reform bill. That bill will mostly likely be Garamendi's first act as a member of congress and is expected to come this weekend.
"Madame speaker is it is a great privilege, indeed I suspect, the greatest privilege a person could have - to stand in the well of the House of Representatives of the United States of America and address this august body," said Garamendi. "It's a privilege that I shall always remember, as I'll always remember this particular moment."
The freshman's first major vote could come Saturday, when the House is expected to vote on a health care plan. The good news is that health care is one of many issues on which Garamendi - a former state legislator, insurance commissioner and deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior - is very well versed. We have no doubt about his ability to hit the ground running.
For House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who plans to take a health-care overhaul to the floor of the House on Saturday, this week's elections meant one thing: Two more votes.
In other words, Pelosi got more than another health-care vote out of Tuesday's election. She got another health-care wonk. It's probably a bit late for Garamendi to establish himself as a player in this reform fight, but the proposal is going to need guidance and modification after it's passed into law, and it'll be interesting to watch whether he proves a player in that phase.
Most of you know John Garamendi (if you know him at all) as the former California state official who won a special election for Ellen Tauscher's old seat in Congress. But those of us in the business of health wonkery know him as one of our own.
"This is the perfect job for John," said Barbara O'Connor, director of the Institute for the Study of Politics and Media at California State University in Sacramento. "He has been aspiring to this job for years and just didn't know it. He is the best equipped freshman congressman we have ever sent to Washington."
At her weekly news conference, Pelosi hailed Garamendi's arrival as "a great victory for our agenda." She said the biggest issue in the race was the Democratic health care plan, which was under attack, but that Garamendi still won big.