While many members of Congress are weighing their every move and the impact it may have on their political futures, Rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine) has made a string of curious decisions as of late.
With Congress back in session last week, the House Committee on Financial Services held its first meeting. The top item on the Committee’s agenda was to discuss a piece of student loan-related legislation, of which Rep. Katie Porter is the primary sponsor.
The hearing, titled: “A $1.5 Trillion Crisis: Protecting Student Borrowers and Holding Student Loan Servicers Accountable” went for four hours and opened with a statement from the committee chairwoman about the importance of the meeting: “It appears that this may, in fact, be the first-ever full committee hearing in its history focused on student lending and the many financial ramifications it has for student borrowers.”
Rep. Katie Porter who is on unpaid leave from her job as a law professor at the University of California, Irvine, has been Congressional Democrat’s primary messenger on the committee and given her credentials and her own piece of massive legislation, it was only natural that she would play a major role in this hearing.
However, despite being in the capitol that day, Rep. Katie Porter decided to skip this landmark hearing to pose for a photo op that she organized with another freshman Democrat that seems to constantly court controversy, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or “AOC” as she is commonly known.
— Rep. Katie Porter (@RepKatiePorter) September 10, 2019
Porter’s office did not return request for comment from media inquiries and the choice to skip out on the first hearing is a curious one.
The Democratic leadership in the house has repeatedly urged its members to avoid shallow political demonstrations and overtly partisan exploits and instead is urging its members to focus on kitchen table issues like healthcare and education to keep their majority in the House.
The urging comes from the concern that freshman Democrats like Rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine), Rep. Harley Rouda (D-Laguna Beach), and Rep Gil Cisneros (D-Yorba Linda) all won their battle ground districts by running as moderates. But for Katie Porter and her local colleagues, the temptation to back red meat liberal issues like impeachment and support for the controversial “Squad” have proven difficult to avoid.
Today I wanted to speak directly to the people of CA-45. There’s been a lot of noise in D.C. and in the press about impeachment, so I wanted to share my thoughts with you. pic.twitter.com/ceri6lHwbY
— Rep. Katie Porter (@RepKatiePorter) June 18, 2019
Aside from being an early backer of impeachment, Porter’s close relationship with the far-left leaves many locals in Orange County scratching their heads as to the dissonance between the moderate brand that Porter assumed during the election versus the more far-left way in which she has chosen to represent her constituents in Congress.
Legislative priorities and the decision to play hooky from a crucial committee hearing concerning her own legislation aside, the “Unity” message of her planned photo op with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez comes at a time when that wing of the Democratic Party has found itself cloaked in controversy and credible charges of anti-Semitism.
Porter’s colleague from Orange County, Rep. Harley Rouda (D-Laguna Beach) who faces a difficult re-election himself, made the wise decision to avoid the photo after drawing scrutiny last month for defending Rep. Ilhan Omar and Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s trip to Israel sponsored by an anti-Semitic organization infamous for republishing a neo-Nazi manifesto and praise for terrorist suicide bombers.
Compounding the problem, is the fact that Porter and Rouda’s native Southern California has played host to a string of heinous, anti-Semitic episodes that include the deadly Poway Synagogue shooting. In the last two years alone, Rouda’s district made headlines when leaked social media images showed affluent high school students performing Nazi salutes over a large swastika and episodes of anti-Semitic graffiti on a synagogue in Porter’s hometown of Irvine.
While incumbency is supposed to have its advantages this string of recent scandals may be taking its toll. Public polling is not available for how SoCal locals feel about Rep. Katie Porter’s performance but recent polling shows at least two other freshman Democrats, Rep. Gil Cisneros and Harley Rouda behind or tied with their Republican opponents after nine months in office.
How these newly-elected Democrats will govern moving forward will likely be a tight rope walk between turning out an increasingly extreme liberal base of supporters and the more moderate or conservative leanings of Orange County.