Carlos Curbelo is one of about five dozen new freshman to the U.S. House of Representatives, and he won’t take office until January. But as he waits, one of the pivotal issues for his district – immigration reform – is suddenly the biggest story of the week.
“I wish this would be happening in January, not now, because all I can do is give color commentary,” said Curbelo, the Miami Republican who beat sitting Rep. Joe Garcia, a Democrat, last week. “That’s frustrating.”
A few minutes later, Curbelo was on Fox News, asked about his views on the issue of the day, and he told host Gretchen Carlson that the president should give the new Congress time to act. If the president acts unilaterally, Curbelo said, it would poison the well and make it harder for Republicans and Democrats to get things done.
“Unfortunately, until January, I can’t do much – except speak publicly like I’m doing today,” he said.
The appearance on Fox capped a busy week for Curbelo and his wife, Cecilia, as they navigated Washington and participated in freshman orientation events for new members of Congress. With their two young daughters at home in Miami, they planned to fly home Friday night. Curbelo will have to back in Washington Sunday night for more orientation events.
It’s a hectic schedule he’ll have to get used to, as the family plans to stay in Miami while he comes to Washington for the congressional work week. He’s deciding whether to pay up for housing in Washington or do what other lawmakers do and sleep on a cot in his office during the work week.
Beyond that, the week was an exercise in “information overload,” he said in an interview. He learned about office staffing and budget guidelines and ethics rules.
“It kind of really hit me the nature of the work that has to get done here, and just the need to learn fast,” he said in the car to the Fox studios. “To use a sports analogy: You’re not on the bench, you don’t get to watch others. You have to jump in and play. To be very frank, it’s been a little overwhelming. And at the same time, very exciting.”