Congressman supports bipartisan anti-hate bill

Congressman Salud Carbajal attends an educational event at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 2017. (Photo by Camas Frank)

NORTH COUNTY — As the hours ticked down to election day, Congressman Salud Carbajal, a Democrat representing California's  24th District on the Central Coast, used some of the time remaining on his first term in office to emphasize bonds with his peers across the aisle and address recent tragedy.

During district visits, stopping in Templeton in August and Atascadero for Colony Days in October, Rep. Carbajal told constituents of his work with Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.).

Both first-term representatives serving on the House Armed Services Committee, they’re also both veterans, although serving at different times.

Rep. Carbajal visited Rep. Bacon’s Nebraska 2nd District on May 5-6, with a reciprocal trip, from Rep. Bacon to Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo, Aug. 30-31.

In May, Rep. Carbajal explained, “When I was sworn in to serve the Central Coast, civility and bipartisanship remained my guiding principles to find common ground and improve the lives of families in the 24th District."

Mannal Haddad, staff and press assistant with Rep. Carbajal's office explained, when asked, that staff themselves didn’t do very much exchange during the exchange trips, “but we did a lot of early work and got to see a lot of similarities between issues the districts face.”

The relationship between the two congressmen and their respective offices came to play last week as attention focused on responding to an act of hate.

On Oct. 27, a man with an assault rifle and at least three handguns committed a massacre inside a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Back in his district, Rep. Carbajal attended the “Night of Solidarity” event at Congregation B’nai B’rith in Santa Barbara as well as the “Standing With Pittsburgh Against Hate” vigil at UC Santa Barbara to remember the 11 dead.

On Nov.1, his office released a statement announcing a, so far unique, joint decision to co-sponsor H.R. 5460, the Never Again Education Act.

The bill seeks to curtail trends of anti-semitism through education, addressing a lack of knowledge about the horrors of the Holocaust.

While bipartisan sponsorship of bills is nothing new, Haddad explained the ties between offices let them sign the sponsorship together rather than go through the informal waiting list process the authors of such legislation usually demand to keep numbers of sponsors evenly split by party.

“It is troubling that so many of our young people do not know about the horrors of the Holocaust and how millions of Jewish people were murdered,” said Rep. Bacon in a press  statement “My friend Salud and I decided to put our names on this piece of legislation together because it rises above party division. It is fitting to honor the victims of Pittsburgh and the Holocaust with this legislation.”
Their announcement cited the need for the proposed fund through the Department of Education, using statistics from the Claims Conference in Germany showing that 49 percent of “millennials” can’t name a single concentration camp and that 52 percent of Americans think Hitler came to power by force rather than via the election process.

For reference, Auschwitz-Birkenau is perhaps the most infamous example of an extermination camp and Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany in 1933 after a series of parliamentary elections.

H.R. 5460 aims to redress the ignorance; providing grants to schools and teachers, create a Holocaust education website, develop curriculum, and create an Advisory Board to help develop the program.

“The tragedy in Pittsburgh and a startling lack of public knowledge about the Holocaust should alarm all Americans, regardless of political party,” Rep. Carbajal added to the statement. “I’m proud to be joining this critical, bipartisan legislation in tandem with my friend and Republican colleague, Rep. Bacon.”

On Nov.6, Rep. Carbajal was elected to a second term in the U.S. House of Representatives, this time as part of a nascent Democratic majority. Rep. Bacon likewise won a second term.

On Nov. 7, just two weeks after the Pittsburgh shooting a gunman entered a college student country music night at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks and killed 12 people, including a first responder.

In the wake of that violence, Rep. Carbajal issued a statement saying that “It is clear that we have a gun violence crisis, and that the nation needs to, “act now to pass meaningful reforms to save lives and prevent future tragedies.”

“My thoughts are with the victims, their loved ones, and the entire community in this time of unimaginable pain,” read the statement. “I am incredibly grateful to Sheriff’s Deputy Ron Helus, who exhibited instinctual bravery and sacrifice during this dangerous shooting and ultimately lost his life.”

Rep. Bacon’s office has not posted a statement since announcing the education bill.


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