Congressman stresses relief efforts during pandemic
Editor’s note: These articles are part of a News-Press series on local candidates in the Nov. 3 election. The series will continue Wednesday with profiles of the candidates in a state Senate race.
As U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal deals with his own diagnosis of COVID-19, he’s thinking about the pandemic’s impact on the nation.
“The first thing we need to do is provide more economic relief to the American people during this COVID-19 pandemic,” the Santa Barbara Democrat told the News-Press by phone from a Washington, D.C., hotel, where he was in quarantine. He was recently diagnosed positive for COVID-19 after coming in contact with U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, who previously tested positive, but the congressman said his symptoms have been mild, ranging from a low-grade fever to some fatigue.
Rep. Carbajal is seeking his third term in the House in the Nov. 3 race against Nipomo Republican Andy Caldwell.
Rep. Carbajal represents the 24th district, which includes all of Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties and part of Ventura County.
The congressman, who noted he supports bipartisan solutions when possible, is part of the House’s Problem Solvers Caucus, made up of 25 Democrats and 25 Republicans.
The caucus has made major proposals in areas such as health care, infrastructure and immigration and recently proposed a $1.5 trillion global economic stimulation package, Rep. Carbajal said.
“Let’s be sure we are protecting our public health and that we are opening our economy as safe as possible, with relief that is needed for workers, individuals, families, businesses and schools,” he said.
“As part of the House, I have voted for six economic relief bills to date, four of which have been signed into law by the president and were bipartisan,” Rep. Carbajal said. “The last two were the $3.5 trillion Heroes Act that passed the House and Heroes Act. 2.0, which was a $2.2 trillion legislative package to provide economic stimulus to the country.”
The congressman criticized President Donald Trump for delaying the negotiations toward passage of Heroes Act 2.0 in the Republican-controlled Senate until after the Nov. 3 election.
In addition to COVID-19 relief, Rep. Carbajal said his priorities for a third term include the year-round fire season. “As such, I’m proud I have worked on ending the practice of fire borrowing in the U.S. Forest Service and creating a billion dollar fire fighting fund that is available for our firefighters to have resources.” (“Fire borrowing” describes the practice of taking money from unrelated projects when the Forest Service exhausts its funding to contain or extinguish fires.)
Rep. Carbajal, who also emphasized his work in addressing climate change, said he is proud of his Energy Zone Opportunities Act. It provides for tax incentives for renewable energy sources within a 120-mile radius of closed coal or nuclear power plants, such as the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant in San Luis Obispo County.
He added he’s proud of his Central Coast Heritage Bill. It designated nearly 250,000 acres with Las Padres National Forest and Carrizo Plain National Monument as protected wilderness areas. The House passed the bill on a 231-183 vote.
Rep. Carbajal also introduced the California Clean Coast Act, which bans offshore oil and gas leasing on the outer continental shelf off the coast.
The congressman stressed that jobs remain among his top priorities and noted his campaign to have Vandenberg Air Force Base named the U.S. Space Command headquarters.
He also noted his vote with a bipartisan majority in the House with the Moving Forward Act, a $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill that is intended to protect new projects from extreme weather caused by climate change.
Another of the congressman’s major priorities is health care.
He said he wants to continue to build on the Affordable Care Act and bring down costs of insurance premiums and prescription drugs.
Rep. Carbajal said he’s been advocating for a public option for health insurance. He said he also favors legislation to allow Medicare to negotiate for lower prices with pharmaceutical companies, which would mean savings for consumers.
The congressman expressed concern that the Supreme Court could rule against the ACA if, as expected, the Senate confirms Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Trump’s appointee, as the replacement for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
And Rep. Carbajal, who’s pro-choice, expressed concern that a Supreme Court with a Justice Barrett could overturn Roe v. Wade.
Before Justice Ginsburg’s death, the court had a 5-4 conservative majority, but conservative Chief Justice John Roberts sometimes votes with the liberal justices, as he did to uphold the ACA.
On defense issues, Rep. Carbajal said he favors withdrawing troops from Afghanistan. “That’s been the longest serving war. But it requires a thoughtful strategy about how we end the conflict, how we bring troops home so it’s done in a way that doesn’t create more danger for our troops or more danger for American interests.”
“I think we need to examine the forces we have throughout the world,” Rep. Carbajal said.
Rep. Carbajal said he favors strengthening relationships with allies. He stressed the importance of staying in the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia, especially in light of President Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.
On other foreign issues, Rep. Carbajal said he agrees with President Trump on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. USCMA replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement, and the congressman said it was improved through bipartisan efforts addressing worker protections, environmental issues and guarantees against windfalls for pharmaceutical companies.
“I was glad I voted for it,” Rep. Carbajal said.
But the congressman noted, “I have not been a fan of this president and the trade wars approach he’s taken.”
He said President Trump’s tariffs had a negative impact on the 24th Congressional District’s wine industry and farmers.
Rep. Carbajal added he supports legislative efforts to help specialty crop commodities such as a 2018 farm bill for which he voted.
On other domestic issues, the congressman stressed he supports funding for law enforcement as well as reforms to prevent racially motivated brutality.
“I’m proud to be a co-sponsor of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which institutes important reforms like banning chokeholds, ending no-knock warrants, and making it easier to prosecute bad officers with a record of misconduct,” Rep. Carbajal said.
“At the same time, I also know our law enforcement officers have a hard and important job, and they are not always equipped to handle all the responsibilities we call on them to do,” he said. “I believe we need to do a better job of funding mental health training and response resources.”
The congressman also noted he would like to see a law enacted to restore Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an executive order under President Barack Obama. He noted the House passed the American Dream and Promise Act, a bipartisan effort.
Before being elected to Congress in 2016, Rep. Carbajal joined the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors in 2004. He also served eight years in the Marine Corps Reserve, which included active duty during the Gulf War in the early 1990s.
He graduated from UCSB and has a master’s in organizational management from Fielding University.
He is married to Gina, and they have two children.
For more information, go to carbajal.house.gov and saludcarbajal.com.