California's congressional delegation represents, in effect, several nation states that often have conflicting interests. Despite fierce and internecine competition between rural and urban or north and south, major emergencies call for one overriding goal: what's best for this state.
In a House vote Thursday, 14 California Republicans put parochial self-interests ahead of the state's future. They pandered to narrow political constituencies and exacerbated the divides between rich and poor, Anglo and minority.
The bill they voted against--which eventually passed 244 to 162--would translate into $500 million in disaster loans, $300 million for direct relief payments and $22 million for loans guaranteed by the federal government. The new aid would benefit riot-ravaged Los Angeles, flood-damaged Chicago and other disaster areas.
Three California Republicans supported the measure. To their credit, Tom Campbell (R-Palo Alto), Jerry Lewis (R-Redlands) and Bill Lowery (R-San Diego) sided with President Bush, the leader of their party and this nation. Bush seems willing, finally, to pay attention to the cities. He is proposing a mix of strategies--enterprise zones, targeted disaster aid and support for law enforcement and social programs--to aid cities for the benefit of the nation.
There is no denying the importance of Los Angeles to the well-being of California. Rebuilding the state's largest city cannot become a partisan process. True recovery will require a strong and united commitment from all Californians, especially those who are in Congress.