Padilla’s First 100 Days: Key Moments
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) marks his first 100 days in the United States Senate. As California’s first Latino Senator, Padilla has worked hard to deliver for Californians – pushing for key priorities, including urgently needed Covid-19 relief, immigration reform, voting rights and environmental justice.
As his first bill as U.S. Senator, Padilla introduced the Citizenship for Essential Workers Act, which would create an expedited pathway to citizenship for the over 5 million essential workers without permanent legal status who have kept Americans healthy, fed, and safe during the Covid-19 pandemic. Padilla was also named Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Immigration, Citizenship, and Border Safety Subcommittee.
Padilla advocated for and supported the passage of the American Rescue Plan, and has been vocal in pushing congressional leaders to ensure no community is left behind in Covid relief, including successfully advocating for California’s FEMA mass vaccination sites to remain operational. And in his official maiden speech, he stressed the urgency to act boldly to address the underlying inequities in California that have been exposed and worsened by the pandemic.
In committee hearings, Padilla has been outspoken on voting rights bringing his experience as California’s former Secretary of State to the deliberations of the Senate and establishing himself as a leader on the issue in Congress.
Padilla has also prioritized environmental justice and combatting climate change. He led a letter to President Biden successfully calling on the administration to restore California’s authority to set clean car standards. Padilla participated in the reintroduction of the Green New Deal and introduced his second bill, the Clean Commute for Kids Act to transition much of the nation’s school bus fleet to zero-emission vehicles and protect children’s health.
Earlier this month, Padilla joined President Joe Biden, Vice President Harris and a bipartisan, bicameral group of legislators for a meeting at the White House to discuss the American Jobs plan and the importance of making bold investments in our nation’s infrastructure.
Key Highlights of Padilla’s first 100 Days:
Los Angeles Times: Alex Padilla sworn in as California’s first Latino U.S. senator
- With his mother’s Bible in hand and his political mentor at his side, Alex Padilla on Wednesday became the first Latino to represent California in the U.S. Senate.
- “It breaks my heart to not have my family at my side when I raise my right hand. It’s a big moment,” Padilla said in an interview beforehand. “It was tricky enough trying to think through how do we travel as a family cross-country during the COVID-19 pandemic and stay healthy. But with the events of the 6th and the security measures being put in place, it just made sense for the family to stay back.”
- “It’s meant to be. I’ve been telling folks I have big Chuck Taylors to fill,” Padilla said, giving a nod to Harris’ favorite footwear.
- Padilla said election security, immigration, criminal justice reform and climate change will be his top priorities in the Senate.
- “We’re long overdue for comprehensive immigration reform, which should include a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million-plus undocumented in the country. No state has more at stake in getting immigration reform done than the state of California,” Padilla said.
- But first his attention is on “COVID, COVID, COVID” and addressing its disproportionate effects on public health and the economy in communities of color. Los Angeles County is among the areas hit hardest.
- “This is very real, very personal to me,” he said.
Univision: “Hoy comenzamos el trabajo”: Alex Padilla habla en exclusiva sobre sus prioridades en el Senado | “Today we begin the work”: Alex Padilla speaks exclusively about his priorities in the Senate
- Tras hacer historia al convertirse en el primer senador hispano designado por California, Alex Padilla tiene muy claro que debe poner manos a la obra cuanto antes para trabajar en los temas que más apremian en su estado. | After making history by becoming the first Hispanic senator appointed by California, Alex Padilla is very clear that he must get to work as soon as possible to work on the issues that are most pressing in his state.
MSNBC (Video): Sen. Padilla: Covid response is top priority as new senator
- Democratic Sen. Alex Padilla is making history as the first Latino senator of California, and he joins Morning Joe to discuss Biden’s first day in office, compromise in the Senate and his top priorities.
- Andrea Mitchell is joined by newly sworn in Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA) to discuss Democrats priorities now that they control both houses of Congress and the White House. He calls comprehensive immigration reform “long overdue” and says that the Biden-Harris administration’s proposal is a “great start.”
San Francisco Chronicle (It’s All Political Podcast): Senator Alex Padilla Gets Emotional
- California’s newly minted senator, Alex Padilla, the first Latino to represent California and the child of Mexican immigrants, talks to Joe Garofoli about how his background will shape his Senate career.
- Padilla said “there’s no time to waste” when it comes to COVID-19 response.
- He says “it’s literally a matter of life and death for far too many throughout California and throughout the country.”
- He said COVID-19 does not discriminate – “…red states and blue states have seen spikes over the last several of weeks, months.”
- “I am hopeful because we have a new president. President Biden who believes in science and trusts public health experts and is already on the job to improve vaccine supply. Even the first batches that were delivered to states, including California, were far short than what was promised. Gov. Newsom was dealt a bad hand last year. How do you produce an effective distribution and vaccination plan when you can’t rely on the numbers you were promised? So as we approve supply, approve distribution, I will be keeping an eye to make sure that it is as equitable of a distribution and vaccination plan as possible. If we know certain communities have been impacted more and disproportionately vulnerable, then they ought to be prioritized in receiving the vaccine,” he said. “Help is on the way.”
- Essential workers have kept our nation running during the Covid-19 crisis at extraordinary personal cost, bearing the emotional burden and health risks of potential daily exposure to a deadly virus. Yet nearly a year into this crisis, frontline workers remain under protected and undercompensated — especially the estimated more than 5 million undocumented workers in essential industries who have endured an additional fear: the possibility of deportation.
- The daily danger essential workers face during this pandemic is more than a public health failure — it is a moral failure, and one we can finally address with a new president and Democratic majority in Congress. We must swiftly enact the full suite of rights, protections, and benefits all essential workers should have been guaranteed months ago, including by immediately acting to provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented essential workers in the next Covid-19 relief package.
- As we work to pass this important legislation, we must also immediately seize the opportunity to provide a fair path to citizenship for undocumented essential workers by including legalization in the next Covid-19 relief package to pass Congress.
- Many essential workers have been put at heightened risk by employers that refuse to prioritize safety over profit by increasing output during outbreaks, or deflect responsibility for coronavirus outbreaks. The Trump administration abandoned all responsibility to workers and let big businesses know they’d face no accountability. The Biden-Harris administration is already taking action to change this by ordering enhanced worker-safety protections and enforcement of labor violations.
- Essential workers should also have access to free, reliable, high-quality childcare, which also means providing the emergency funding necessary to keep childcare providers in business. And we must ensure that workers’ right to organize, and their collective bargaining agreements, are protected.
- It is time for America to do right by the workers sacrificing so much for their communities and our country. We must act now to protect the health, economic security, and rights of all essential workers, including those who are undocumented immigrants.
Telemundo: Alex Padilla ve grandes posibilidades de un acuerdo bipartidista para aprobar la reforma migratoria | Alex Padilla sees great possibilities for a bipartisan agreement to pass immigration reform
- El senador por California dice estar optimista de poder contar con el apoyo del Congreso para aprobar el plan de refoma migratoria presentado por Biden. Para tener éxito de manera bipartidista, se necesitaría conseguir 10 votos republicanos en el Senado. | The senator from California says he is optimistic that he can count on the support of Congress to approve the immigration reform plan presented by Biden. To be successful in a bipartisan fashion, you would need 10 Republican votes in the Senate.
- “If we continue to see obstruction from our Republican colleagues as we saw through this COVID relief package, then I think the patience is going to wear thin, even on moderate Democrats,” Padilla said on CNN’s “Inside Politics.”
- “In the meantime we’ll exercise as many options as we can, whether it’s through straight legislation, budget reconciliation or otherwise, to continue to make progress.”
- Padilla told CNN that voting rights may be the issue worth eliminating the filibuster for, along with other “strong contenders” such as climate change, health care and voting rights.
- “For me, voting rights is very personal,” said Padilla, who served as California secretary of state for six years before Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed him in December to the Senate seat vacated by Vice President Kamala Harris. “I spent my prior six years … advancing the model, not just for maintaining the security and integrity of our elections but maximizing access to the ballot, from the registration side to the voting side. It’s a model that I think would serve the country great.”
- “It’s not about Democrats, it’s not about Republicans, it’s about our democracy,” he continued.
- “It’s a tremendous opportunity and a tremendous responsibility at a critical time,” Padilla said in a recent interview. “We need to be aggressive and we need to act with urgency.”
- “What I’ve been hearing on a daily basis is, ‘it’s not always like this.’ There’s so much about this moment in time that is unprecedented, from the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re still reeling from the insurrection of Jan. 6, there’s a reason there’s a military presence and the barriers and fencing around the Capitol, and the impeachment trial,” he said. Of the trial, he added: “It was very sobering. You could hear a pin drop most of the time.”
- He is about to experience his first major legislative fight over immigration, after winning a post as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Border Security and Immigration — the first Latino to hold the job.
- “It’s a recognition not just that the time is right, but that the time is ripe, r-i-p-e, for achieving immigration reform. It’s long overdue,” he said. “Immigration reform and a pathway to citizenship for the millions that have earned it is good for the nation and good for our economy.”
- “It feels a little surreal being just a text message away from the Vice President of the United States, but she has been very generous and helpful in my transition. It’s not lost on me that I have big Chuck Taylors to fill,” Padilla said.
- “I’m really happy to see the level of welcoming and how can I help you and looking forward to working with you that I’ve gotten from colleagues on both sides of the aisle,” Padilla said.
- Still, when Newsom called Padilla on Zoom to formally offer him the job, the weight of the moment hit Padilla as he choked up. He recalled his parents, both immigrants from Mexico.
- “When the call came, when the Zoom came and the offer was made, I couldn’t help but immediately think back on my life journey, which began with remembering all the struggles and sacrifices of my parents coming to the United States in pursuit of the American dream,” Padilla said.
- Sen. Alex Padilla said he’s doing his best to “drink through the fire hose.”
- Padilla is taking a spot on the high-profile Judiciary Committee, which Vice President Harris just vacated. He also has spots on the committees on Budget, Rules and Administration, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and Environment and Public Works.
- He supports abolishing the filibuster, has called for removing some Republican senators for their role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and said the Republican proposal on COVID-19 relief was a “nonstarter.”
- He also wants to use California as an example for how the U.S. should handle climate change, when Republicans typically use the state’s climate policies as a political punching bag.
- Padilla supports President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan, which includes $1,400 checks for most Americans and continuing increased unemployment payments. He refers to the stimulus payments as “survival checks,” and said Congress should be prepared to send out more until “COVID is under control” and “a majority of people are vaccinated.”
- “My dad is 80 years old and lives in the house where I grew up, he’s in the vulnerable age population. Thankfully he got his first vaccine last week, but for weeks it was frustrating,” Padilla said. “He would call me every week, and he wasn’t able to quickly get an appointment.”
- Padilla’s father was a short-order cook, and his mother, who has passed away, was a domestic worker who cleaned homes. Those are the types of people who are on the front lines of the pandemic, Padilla said, and need the most help.
- “Restaurant employees have been highly impacted during COVID. You’ve either lost your job, or lost your wages, or you’re disproportionately exposed to the virus,” Padilla said. “So yeah, it’s personal to me.”
- “In an ideal world, we can make progress on a bipartisan basis,” Padilla said. “But knowing the urgency of the work near term, we can’t let it get in the way of COVID, of health care — which is a right — of immigration reform that is long overdue, and so much more.”
- Senator Padilla: “It’s been quite the journey. Transitioning into the United States Senate is a kind of a big enough deal on its own. But the circumstances we’re living in have made the work not just that much more important, but that much more urgent in starting with improving the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and so much more. So it’s a lot to take in. It’s an honor of a lifetime. But we’re fired up and ready to work.”
- Senator Padilla: “I think the door is wide open for Republicans to join Democrats on acting urgently to provide much needed relief for families that are struggling in California and across the country, small businesses that have been struggling to keep their doors open, providing the resources necessary for health care facilities, and state and local governments, school districts, etc. I think ultimately that’s what Americans want and deserve big action fast.”
- Senator Padilla: “President Biden’s executive orders reversing some of the most cruel policies of the Trump administration is a good start. But comprehensive immigration reform done legislatively is long overdue. It may not be easy, but once again, it’s going to be up to Republicans to decide whether we can do something on a bipartisan basis or not. But I’m hopeful. It wasn’t that long ago in 2013, when a bipartisan package was approved by the United States Senate. I know, the political environment we’re all living in has certainly changed in the last seven years. But it does provide me hope that it can be done on a bipartisan basis, sooner rather than later.”
San Francisco Chronicle: California’s Alex Padilla gets choice Senate committee assignments
- The California Democrat will sit on the Environment and Public Works Committee, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and Judiciary Committee, assignments that will give him high-profile questioning opportunities and a hand in shaping major policies that affect California. He will also sit on the Budget and Rules committees, panels that have internal clout in the Senate.
- Padilla’s seats give him an opportunity to raise his national profile, much as they did for Harris. She sat on the same committees, starting out on the environment panel and then trading it for a spot on Judiciary in 2018. Harris also was on the Intelligence Committee, but did not serve on Rules.
- In addition to being good placements for policy and publicity, Padilla’s assignments will ensure representation for people of color on those committees.
- “From tackling climate change and strengthening election security to implementing comprehensive immigration reform, and prioritizing vacancies in California courts and diversifying our judicial bench,” Padilla said, “these committee assignments will allow me to fight for the issues that are front and center in California.”
Los Angeles Daily News: Sen. Padilla takes helm of immigration subcommittee as Biden unveils sweeping reform outline
- U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla has been named chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Immigration Subcommittee in the 117th Congress, just in time for President Joe Biden to unveil an ambitious plan on Thursday, Feb. 18, to reform the nation’s immigration system.
- Padilla, a Democrat whose path to the U.S. Senate began in Pacoima, will be the first Latino to ever hold the position.
- “While no state has more at stake in immigration policy than California, the entire nation stands to benefit from thoughtful immigration reform,” Padilla said in a statement. “I commit to bringing the urgency to immigration reform that this moment demands and millions of hard working immigrants have earned.”
- Padilla, the son of Mexican immigrants who was appointed to fill the seat left vacant by now Vice President Kamala Harris, said his goal was to restore “humanity, dignity and respect to the immigration process,” after four years of hardline Trump administration border and deportation policies.
- In that spirit, he said he changed the name of the subcommittee, which was once known as the Subcommittee on Border Security and Immigration to the Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship and Border Safety.
- Padilla said he plans to advocate for immigrant communities in California and across the country, including essential workers, many from immigrant communities particularly affected by COVID-19.
- The Senate is embarking on a chaotic, all-night session as Democrats lay the groundwork for enacting Coronavirus relief without the support of Republicans, as the two sides remain far apart on a deal Meanwhile, the second impeachment trial of former President Trump looms, with Democrats asking Trump to come testify next week A lot of action on Capitol Hill, and California’s newest US Senator has landed right in the middle of it. He told me it’s like drinking from a firehose as he tries to get up to speed in a hurry. For more on this, Senator Alex Padilla, joined KCBS Radio news anchors, Jeff Bell and Patti Reising, along with KCBS Radio Political Reporter, Doug Sovern.
- In a one-on-one with Democrat Alex Padilla, California’s newly-appointed U.S. Senator, we talk with him about COVID-19 relief funding, vaccine rollout, immigration and the upcoming Senate impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump.
San Francisco Chronicle: Sen. Alex Padilla’s first bill would offer citizenship to essential workers
- In an interview, Padilla said his Citizenship for Essential Workers Act was an easy choice for his first piece of legislation as a senator on a personal and policy level. He noted his Mexican immigrant parents spent four decades working in the service industry — his father as a short-order cook and his mom cleaning houses. Padilla is the first Latino senator from California and one of only a handful in the Senate, and he has already used that position to voice concerns of the Latino community in Washington.
- “I think nothing speaks to the moment more than COVID response and fairness for essential workers,” Padilla told The Chronicle. “On a parallel track, we know that immigration reform is long overdue in the United States of America and there are no states that have more at stake in immigration reform than the state of California.”
- But the legislation is emblematic of how Padilla hopes to shape the perpetual debate on immigration as it unfolds in coming months. Padilla has also been one of the lawmakers leading a more expansive immigration bill from President Biden, which includes measures like his essential workers bill. It would also would legalize other populations like “Dreamers” who came to the U.S. as children. Padilla said that legislation is still the “ideal package” and that he fully supports it, but his bill is a complement that highlights a specific area of the broader deal.
- “A standalone measure allows us to uplift specific elements of a comprehensive package as you continue to gain momentum and support,” Padilla said.
- Padilla was named the chair of a subcommittee on the Senate Judiciary panel that oversees immigration policy, a significant nod for a first-term senator, which will allow him to shape almost any legislation that moves through the committee.
- He said he asked for the position, and when it was granted, he changed the name of the committee from the Subcommittee on Border Security and Immigration to the Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship and Border Safety “to potentially set a different tone than the cruelty of the Trump administration border and immigration policies of the last four years,” he said.
- “I’m here, I’m ready to work, I know it’s urgent and I’m just so thrilled that this chairmanship gives me a unique opportunity to help advance this policy as quickly as possible,” Padilla said.
- “Alex Padilla is a strong partner in Senate, especially to build a fairer immigration system,” Castro said. “He not only brings subject matter expertise, but also reflects the lived experiences of millions of Americans. … This effort has real potential to meaningfully improve people’s lives.”
Los Angeles Daily News: Alex Padilla’s first Senate speech: ‘Two Americas’ exposed by pandemic demand bold response
- His voice cracking, holding back tears, he took his place at the lectern on the U.S. Senate floor: “My name is Alex Padilla y soy el hijo de Santos y Lupe Padilla…”
- In his first 50 days as a United States senator, Alex Padilla took a front row seat to the fallout of the Capitol insurrection, cast a historic vote on the impeachment of a former president and weighed in on one of the largest economic rescue bills in American history.
- The speech was framed by the now-familiar backstory of the middle son of Mexican immigrants who settled their family in the working-class L.A. town of Pacoima. That story became the foundation for a speech calling for a bold governmental response to the COVID-19 pandemic, during which Padilla issued a plea to “open our eyes to the deep, systematic inequities that have been exposed and exacerbated by this crisis.”
- Padilla pointed to “two Americas,’ split by divergent economies.
- “We see two Californias, where the stock market reaches new highs for some, while in the San Fernando Valley, too many, many families depend on city or church food distribution sites to feed their children,” he said. “We see the two Californias in the impact the pandemic has had on immigrant communities, the very community on the front lines of this crisis,” he added.
- His first bill, the Citizenship for Essential Workers Act, would provide a pathway to citizenship for more than 5 million front-line essential workers “who happen to be undocumented immigrants,” he said.
- “Think about that. In one generation our family has gone from being immigrant cooks and house cleaners to serving in the United States Senate,” he said. “That’s the California Dream. That’s the American Dream.”
- You never get a second chance to make a first impression. I hope to set the tone [during my maiden speech] for why I’m in public service. I’ve been asked a lot, ‘What does it mean to be the first Latino to represent the state of California’? You’ve heard that I make constant references to my family and our journey. So expanding on that, how that informs my thinking, my priorities and how I go about my work.
- In one generation, an immigrant cook and house-cleaner’s son gets to serve in the United States Senate. Talk about the American dream.
- These last few months have been like nothing else. It hasn’t been easy, but it’s certainly gratifying. To think back and say I was one of the votes for this package that was approved on Saturday that’s being compared with L.B.J. and F.D.R. — to be a part of that? That’s an indicator of the kind of impact you can have.
- The urgency because of the devastation of Covid is like nothing we’ve ever dealt with before.
- This is how my journey influences my work now. The very reason I left a career in engineering and got involved in government was Proposition 187 in 1994. I was relatively fresh home from college. I came home to a political environment that had ads running on television saying that immigrants and children of immigrants should no longer be eligible for public services, that the economy’s tanking, and it’s the fault of people like my parents and families like mine. It was beyond insulting. It was enraging. I had no choice but to get involved.
- My bill says any essential worker deserves a pathway to citizenship. But there’s other more bureaucratic pieces people aren’t talking about: The length of time the process takes to become a citizen. The cost of the application itself. Research shows that when immigrants become citizens, there’s a net economic benefit, not just to the individual and their family, but to the economy.
- COVID relief going to undocumented immigrants is championed by Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA), who describes his bill for creating a pathway to citizenship for undocumented essential workers to Tiffany Cross.
- Padilla: It’s been dual pandemics, to be honest, devastation from a health standpoint on so many people throughout the country. That needs to be responded to. The Rescue Plan does that with more vaccination supply, distribution, equity in administering of the vaccines, and then some.
- Padilla: Resources for schools to reopen, but reopen safely, et cetera, but also from the economic standpoint. You talk about some of the other elements of the bill, which some of our Republican colleagues tried to paint as non-COVID-related, when it couldn’t be further from the truth. The pandemic has had a devastating impact on the economy, both from a health standpoint, an economic standpoint, disproportionately on communities of color and working-class communities.
- Padilla: As we’re turning the corner here, this is exactly the infusion that we need, not just to restore the economy, but to keep those trend lines going down on the number of cases, number of fatalities. No state is bigger, no state is more diverse, no state has more stake in this than the state of California.
- Padilla: States like California and New York well on their way to get into a $15-an-hour minimum wage. People across the country, throughout the country, in every corner of the country deserve a living wage.
- Padilla: Eleven dollars an hour is not enough of a minimum wage increase. The American people deserve better. This is not a partisan issue, by the way. Republicans and Democrats across the board, just as they were supportive of this rescue package, support an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
- Padilla: Immigration reform in this country is long overdue. It was long overdue prior to the beginning of the Trump administration. But, clearly, the last four years were devastating not just immigrants coming to the United States, immigrants that are living in the United States, but immigration policy overall.
NBC San Diego: NBC 7’s Exclusive Interview With CA Senator Alex Padilla
- “We’re still in the wake of the insurrection of January 6, asking the questions of how did that happen, how do we prevent it from happening again, holding people accountable. I sat through an impeachment trial and all those sorts of things ….it’s been the proverbial drinking out of a fire hose,” Senator Padilla said.
- Senator Padilla says he’s proud to have voted for the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill President Biden recently signed that he believes will bring greatly needed resources to California. “I think the final version wasn’t perfect. I’d like to have seen maybe some of the numbers go up in that package or the inclusion of the raise of the minimum wage, for example, but that being said the final product is going to be immensely helpful to California and the country.”
- Senator Padilla says he believes the money from the relief bill will help with the supply and distribution of vaccines. He says he received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine shortly after he was sworn into office at the advice of a Capitol physician. “I can attest, it is safe, I note it is effective and I implore anybody and everybody once it’s available to you, to please get vaccinated. That’s how you’ll protect yourself, how you’ll protect your family, help protect your community and get us all through this pandemic.”
- California’s two U.S. senators are urging President Joe Biden to set a firm date to phase-out gas-powered passenger vehicles as the White House grapples with how to rewrite vehicle emissions rules slashed under President Donald Trump.
- In an unreported letter going to Biden Monday, Democratic Senators Alex Padilla and Dianne Feinstein called on Biden “to follow California’s lead and set a date by which all new cars and passenger trucks sold be zero-emission vehicles.” They also urged Biden to restore California’s authority to set clean car standards.
- “We believe the national baseline should, at an absolute minimum, be built around the technical lead set by companies that voluntarily advanced their agreements with California,” Padilla, who replaced Vice President Kamala Harris in the Senate, and Feinstein wrote in the letter seen by Reuters. “California and other states need a strong federal partner.”
- California Democratic Senator Alex Padilla is in Inglewood today, touring the coronavirus mass vaccination site at SoFi Stadium. “We have to get the right information out there. Yes, the vaccine is safe. Yes, the vaccine is effective. I’ve had it, I’m doing okay,” he tells KCRW.
- Also earlier this month, Padilla unveiled the Citizenship for Essential Workers Act, which would provide a pathway to citizenship for all undocumented essential workers. “The very workers that we’ve all been praising in health care and agriculture and transportation and construction during the course of this pandemic … they have earned an opportunity to become citizens of the United States.”
San Joaquin Valley Sun: Alex Padilla touts Biden’s stimulus package as a Central Valley poverty killer
- California Sen. Alex Padilla joined Fresno and Kern Counties economic leaders to praise President Joe Biden’s stimulus package and predicted that the Central Valley will be a main benefactor of the extra funds.
- “For too long, prior sessions of Congress, prior presidents, frankly, have been more focused on giving tax breaks for the wealthy and large corporations than they have on assisting working families,” Padilla said. “So this time it’s different.”
- Padilla sees the American Rescue Plan as a savior for the Valley’s impoverished. “Because of the way we framed the American Rescue Package, we think that the Central Valley will disproportionately benefit given some of the prior conditions, and this is particularly important to me. “The early education piece – we know that the more you invest in a child in their first five years of life, you’re going to get both education and health benefits throughout the course of that young person’s life.”
- “That alone has the potential to uplift nearly half the children living in poverty in America out of poverty,” Padilla said. “Imagine that, being able to cut child poverty in half through the implementation of the American Rescue Plan.”
- Senator Alex Padilla pledged help Tuesday for struggling families in Kern County. “It’s been a tough year to put it mildly,” said California’s newest senator about the impacts of the pandemic across the state and Kern County. During a virtual phone call Tuesday with leaders from the non-profit Community Action Partnership of Kern, Padilla promised that the resources of the United States government are dedicated to families in need.
- “The good news is both hope and help are on the way,” he said as he touted the recent $1.9 trillion dollar signed into law known as the “American Rescue Act of 2021.” In addition to sending stimulus payments of $1,400 to individuals making less than $75,000 per year, the bill also will help young families and children across the nation, according to Padilla.
- The legislation, per Padilla, will allow many parents to reduce their tax bill by claiming a child tax credit. Parents earning less than $75,000 on a single return can claim a tax credit of $300 per month, or $3,600 per year per child less than six years old. For every child younger than 17, but older than six years old, that credit stands at $250 per month per child.
- When asked to respond, Padilla said “it was very intentional to be comprehensive and inclusive in this COVID relief package for the sake of our public health and economic recovery.”
- California senators Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla said Wednesday they requested that the Federal Emergency Management Agency work with local and state governments to keep mass COVID-19 vaccination sites open in Oakland and Los Angeles past their planned April 11 end date.
- Feinstein and Padilla called for FEMA “to provide the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES) and the counties of Alameda and Los Angeles with financial and logistical support so they can take over operations, and that the federal government continues to send the sites direct shipments of vaccine doses.”
- With California planning to make all residents 16 and older eligible for the vaccine next month, “we believe this is precisely the time when mass vaccination sites, like the ones in Oakland and Los Angeles, are needed. It would be counterproductive to close them before the vast majority of the population is vaccinated,” the senators wrote.
- “We have to make it clear as long as the pandemic lasts, the federal government will be there to support American families and small businesses,” Padilla said.
- “It was wrong to rescind the opportunities for these individuals, and in some cases, families, to apply for asylum from their native countries,” the senator said.
- Padilla’s first bill in the Senate would provide a pathway to citizenship for essential workers.
- “They have earned protection, peace of mind and a pathway to citizenship,” he said.
Associated Press: Dems push $25B to electrify school buses, a Biden priority
- The legislation led by Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., seeks to build on the administration’s effort this week to promote the electrification of school buses, which Biden sees as an important step in addressing climate change and economic inequities.
- School buses make up 90% of the nation’s total bus fleet and typically carry nearly 25 million children each day. Emissions from diesel engines may contribute to respiratory illnesses in children, studies have found, and have been linked to poor academic performance.
- “I know firsthand how outdated diesel school buses expose our children to harmful and unnecessary pollution,” Padilla told The Associated Press, explaining how as a kid he frequently rode the bus to get to class and for after-school programs such as baseball games. “Growing up in the San Fernando Valley, my lungs would be filled with diesel exhaust by the time I arrived at school each day.” … “Transitioning our school bus fleet to zero-emission vehicles is an essential aspect of building equitable, sustainable infrastructure and is a wise investment in our children, our environment and our future,” he said.
- The lawmakers’ push comes in a week when Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are highlighting their proposed $45 billion in infrastructure spending to accelerate the adoption of zero-emission transit buses and school buses. On Monday, Harris visited a North Carolina bus manufacturing plant and urged $20 billion in investments to help convert the nation’s 500,000 school buses to electric.
Politico Red Fresh & Blue: Alex Padilla replaced Kamala Harris in the Senate. Now, he’s pushing for an immigration overhaul.
- “We’ve got to walk and chew gum at the same time. Look, you want to work on a bipartisan basis. I’m not against that. That’s the ideal scenario. Those of us who already agree we need to get rid of the filibuster continue to be vocal about it, keep it a public priority,” Padilla said.
- A huge focus for Padilla is immigration reform. California has the highest concentration of immigrants of any state in the U.S. and he’s the son of Mexican immigrants. Despite the lack of movement on comprehensive immigration reform for decades, Padilla is “optimistic.”
- “And there’s probably different ways to achieve the reforms,” said Padilla. “For starters, we have a president in the White House who’s willing.”
- Alex Padilla was radicalized early. The young man was 21, freshly graduated from MIT with a mechanical-engineering degree, and he had returned to his childhood home in the San Fernando Valley to figure out his next step. From the television in the living room, Padilla heard a grim voice offer a warning: “They keep coming.” Grainy black-and-white video showed shady figures wading through cars waiting in line at the crossing in San Ysidro. “Two million illegal immigrants in California. The federal government won’t stop them at the border, yet requires us to pay billions to take care of them,” the voice added, menacingly.
- “Who is it that they’re referring to? Latinos coming from Mexico to California to work?” Padilla thought. “That’s the big threat?” The people in the ad could just as easily have been his family, so when the time came to protest anti-immigrant legislation in the state, he eagerly joined. Padilla and his mom gathered a group of neighbors to attend the massive 1994 demonstration in downtown Los Angeles against a ballot referendum that would limit immigrants’ access to public services. In doing so, he put himself on a path that would lead him to the Senate.
- Padilla told me that, through his work in the Senate, he wants “to ensure that the American dream my family has experienced in the San Fernando Valley is still within reach.” The past four years have tested that dream for millions, especially Black and brown Americans.
- His parents, Lupe and Santos, a housekeeper and a short-order cook, respectively, feature prominently in the stories Padilla tells about his political career. (Lupe died in 2018; Santos lives in the same home that Padilla grew up in.) His voice thickened when he told me about how his dad would interrupt him late at night while he was working on school assignments to remind him of his duty to graduate college: “Mi hijo, cuando crezcas, quiero que trabajes con tu mente, y no con tu espalda.” “Son, when you grow up, I want you to work with your mind, and not your back.”
- “There’s a lot of honor in manual labor, and I don’t want that to be misrepresented, but that was his way of saying he wanted better for us,” Padilla said. So when the time came to leave the Valley, he packed everything he had in two tote bags and flew to Logan International Airport to spend four years in a drastically less brown town: Cambridge, Massachusetts.
- Padilla “transformed” the secretary of state’s office, María Teresa Kumar, the CEO and founding president of the activist group Voto Latino, told me. “The fact that 16-year-olds can preregister—it’s not small, because the majority of [those young people] are Latinos, Asians, and African Americans. He enfranchised them.” Four and a half million more residents were registered to vote when Padilla left office than when he entered; now nearly 90 percent of eligible Californians can vote.
- Padilla said his experience running California’s elections is behind his support for the election-reform bill H.R.1, a new Voting Rights Act, and comprehensive immigration reform. Those measures would expand the body politic by making the ballot box more accessible to Black and Latino Americans, and they’d boost voter trust in the legitimacy of the political system, he argues. The system could then better reflect the diversity of Latino communities and their complex priorities—a core aim of his agenda.
- Because of his experience as California secretary of state, “he knows the voting-rights history of this country and the efforts to disenfranchise people,” Laura Gómez, a Chicana scholar and professor at UCLA’s law school, told me. “Then, by virtue of having been to an East Coast school, he’s been exposed to [other Latino groups], and he needs to continue to build bridges to Puerto Ricans and Cubans and Dominicans and other Latinos.”
- Recasting the immigration debate could help that shift: Though Padilla has already carved out immigration reform as one of his top priorities in the Senate, he is framing it as a pragmatic economic cause, not just a moral issue, saying he’s open to piecemeal reforms such as his bill to grant citizenship to 5 million essential workers.
- Padilla and I talked a bit about his first election, for the city council’s seventh district. Before starting his campaign, Padilla had sought out the counsel of his dad’s brother, his padrino—a “typical Mexican man of few words”—who pressed him on why he was running. Padilla made his case, of the need to have the community represented by someone who knew it, who would patch up the potholes, update the local library, and listen to his neighbors’ concerns. When Election Night rolled around, his padrino missed the victory party because he had the flu, but Padilla went to see him the next day, jumping up and down and shouting, “Ganamos—we won!”
- In a slow and steady tone, his padrino replied, “Bueno, hijo, ahora hay que cumplir.” “Well, son, now it’s time to deliver.”