The Issue Is: From Long Beach to Washington, D.C.

This week on The Issue Is, a conversation with Congressman-Elect Robert Garcia.

The California Democrat, who spent the last eight years as Mayor of Long Beach, is on his way to the House of Representatives, where he was recently elected by his peers as freshman class president.

Garcia joins Elex Michaelson to discuss his experience at freshman orientation, his use of social media to troll Republicans, immigration reform, crypto regulation, and his place as the first openly-gay immigrant in Congress.

Next, Michaelson travels to the Reagan Presidential Library for the annual Reagan National Defense Forum, an annual event that "brings together leaders from across the political spectrum and key stakeholders in the defense community… to discuss and debate how the U.S. can lead the world in an era of increasingly complex challenges and opportunities."

At the forum, Michaelson spoke with Congressmen Mike Garcia (R-CA), Ken Calvert (R-CA), and Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), former U.S. Defense Secretaries Mark Esper and Leon Panetta, FOX News anchor Bret Baier, and more.


GARCIA’S CENTRAL TAKE: "We have a great class, there's 34 Democrats, obviously a big, large class of Democrats and Republicans, and I'm honored to represent them. It's a great group of people, teachers, attorneys, mechanics, a representation of the country, and so I'll be a representative to the leadership. We have new leadership coming in, of course, Leader Hakeem Jeffries, for the Democrats. And so, it's an honor to be selected, and I'm just going to work every day to ensure that they all get reelected…

"You know, I'm an immigrant kid, I grew up with not a lot, and so to be able to become a U.S. citizen, to go through this process, get elected Mayor of my community and then get elected to Congress, is a huge experience, but one I think that only can happen here in this country…"


GARCIA’S CENTRAL TAKE: "I'm gay and so I like to have fun, and I tell people, like, you know, I do all my own social media and I like to have fun and have a good time - it's part of my personality. I think it's also important to speak to a new generation and folks talk, you know, and speak through social media, through Twitter, through other avenues, and so I do it myself, I plan to continue doing it myself, and I plan to continue to troll Marjorie Taylor Greene as best possible... While it's light hearted and funny, you know, I do take seriously that she wants to take rollback rights for gay people and LGBTQ+ people, so that's something that I take very seriously…"


GARCIA’S CENTRAL TAKE: "Certainly I support getting something done in this lame duck session of Congress that would be ideal, but at the end of the day, there's got to be a broader conversation around immigration. There's 10 to 11 million people here in this country that have no pathway to citizenship, and I think we've got to at least start by finding a pathway to those that there's a consensus around. You think about people that are been in college, are Dreamers, folks that have served in the military, that literally served this country in uniform, that don't have a pathway to citizenship? I mean, those are I think are areas that we can all come to agreement on and should focus on first. Guest worker programs, we're hearing from companies, many of whom support Republicans, that are saying we need more workers within guest worker programs, whether it's in agriculture or whether it's in construction. And so I think those are areas that we should try to find agreement on and move forward first…"


GARCIA’S CENTRAL TAKE: "Just to be clear, I mean, I've never met [Sam Bankman-Fried], so I don't know him. He obviously donated to campaigns across the country and those were independent expenditure campaigns, so that money that he gave, whether it was to me or other candidates was through this dark money system that we have in this country where any individual person can donate to any candidate. I believe in public financing. I think those laws should change. I have no control over what he or any other person out in this country is going to spend money on in these campaigns. I think it's outrageous that one person can spend so much money, and so I support reform. I don't know him, but I do think the issue in front of us is serious. I don't have crypto. I don't know much about crypto, to be honest, but I look forward to reviewing this issue in Congress…"


GARCIA’S CENTRAL TAKE: "I tell people all the time that Long Beach is a huge city. I think people don't realize that, from a population perspective, it's smaller than Atlanta, Georgia. It's got more people than Pittsburgh, Miami, New Orleans. In any other state, this would be like the largest city. Long beach is enormous, particularly here in southern California. So it's been an honor to serve, you know, as mayor. I think when I look back, I think the biggest emergency we had was the pandemic. We lost 1,300 people, the single largest emergency that we had as a city was the pandemic, and so I'm really proud of the community's response around that. But also, you know, we've spent more now on infrastructure and fixing streets than at any time in the last 50, 60 years, through measures we put in front of voters, we fixed schools, we've modernized our climate work, we've raised wages - in Long Beach, we actually raised the minimum wage before the state did... I'm proud of that work. I think we've had a progressive record in the city, but I also think that we've always centered people and tried to uplift people's right. So I'm proud of the eight years…"

The Issue Is: with Elex Michaelson is California's only statewide political show. For showtimes and more information, go to