Politics & Government

From lieutenant governor to member of Congress in 1 day

WASHINGTON — John Garamendi is wasting no time in making his move from Sacramento to Washington.

On Tuesday night, he won a special election in California's 10th District. On Wednesday, he took a Southwest Airlines flight to Washington. And on Thursday -- with his wife, six children and six of his nine grandchildren watching -- he was sworn in by Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as the newest member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

"It was a thrill," Garamendi said. "Downright exciting."

And now, much to the pleasure of Pelosi, he's ready to vote for a trillion-dollar health-care overhaul, the biggest issue to face Congress this year.

"It may be the biggest vote in the last 30 years in terms of domestic policy," Garamendi said. "This is crucial. This is crucial to every person in America."

Garamendi, who hosted a reception in his new digs in the Rayburn House Office Building after getting sworn in, said he read part of the 20-pound 1,990-page health care bill during his flight.

"I was going through the summaries," he said.

Garamendi, a Democrat who defeated Republican attorney David Harmer, is replacing former Democratic Rep. Ellen Tauscher, who went to work for the Obama administration as an undersecretary in the State Department.

Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will appoint Garamendi's successor as lieutenant governor.

After resigning from the No. 2 position in state government, Garamendi joked that he has given up watching Schwarzenegger's health.

"No longer," he said.