What are Southern California lawmakers up to with Congress in recess?





Lawmakers face a full agenda when they return to Capitol Hill next month: a new federal budget, the debt ceiling, tax reform and infrastructure spending. Plus, President Donald Trump still wants Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare, and then there’s North Korea.

But for now, during their August recess, members of Congress from both parties are back in their districts getting reacquainted with constituents. Southern California lawmakers are touring businesses and factories, appearing at public events, speaking to community groups and holding campaign fundraisers.

They may seem omnipresent, but that doesn’t mean everyone can see them.

Many tours, fundraisers and speeches are off-limits to the public. Republicans in particular seem wary of holding town hall meetings, where they might face jeering crowds and sharply worded questions about health care and the Trump presidency in exchanges captured for endless viewing on YouTube.

“Angry people show up at town halls,” said Jack Pitney, a professor of politics at Claremont McKenna College. “Right now, most of the anger is on the Democratic side, so many Republicans are avoiding traditional town halls.”

“As an alternative, they sometimes hold (telephone town halls), where a staffer can screen out hostile calls,” Pitney added. “They can also speak to meetings of local organizations whose members don’t jeer.”

Even that doesn’t silence protesters. Critics of Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Corona, have made a habit of picketing his private events, including a recent golf fundraiser in Riverside.

Lawmakers representing swing districts “need to work their districts to show that they are not losing touch,” Pitney said. “Members in safe districts have the luxury of using recess to reconnect with their families, though it’s usually a good idea to take those families to local attractions.”

Speeches and tours

Those hosting town hall meetings in…

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