This Democrat won a seat in Congress weeks ago. Why isn't he in DC working?

This should have been a fairly easy question, but as with all things in California it seems to be needlessly complicated. A few weeks ago, California Democratic state assemblyman Jimmy Gomez easily won election to Congress. Congratulations! But we’re quickly approaching the July 4th congressional recess and Mr. Gomez still hasn’t shown up in Washington to be sworn in and start working. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy is wondering why. (LA Times)

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) wants to know why Rep.-elect Jimmy Gomez hasn’t been sworn in, saying the seat’s “elongated vacancy” is “an abdication” of his responsibilities.

Twenty one days have passed since Gomez won a special election to replace now-California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra, who resigned Los Angeles’ 34th Congressional District last January.

Gomez, a current Democratic state assemblyman, told The Times after the election he would try to delay his Assembly resignation to vote on extending the state’s cap-and-trade program, which requires companies to buy permits to release greenhouse gas.

The seat in the 34th district has been empty for months now and I’m guessing that the voters there might like to have their voices heard in the many hotly contested debates currently roiling Congress. But Gomez is still interested in hanging around and voting on some cap and trade bill in the state assembly. Where do his priorities lie? McCarthy sent a letter telling him to basically get moving or get out of the way and let someone else have the job.

“If this delay persists due to his prioritization of state legislative matters, Congressman-elect Gomez should be honest with the constituents of California’s 34th congressional district who he was elected to serve and resign from his newly-elected seat so they can elect someone ready to serve on Day One,” McCarthy wrote.

One might imagine that the Majority Leader normally wouldn’t be in such a hurry to seat yet another Democrat given the way the votes have been falling lately, so what’s up with this? Good question. In terms of his leadership position, McCarthy isn’t the Speaker so he’s really not responsible for anyone but his own caucus. But every member has a responsibility to their constituents no matter which party they decided to go with. It’s something of an embarrassment to the entire chamber when someone goes through all the time, trouble and expense involved in getting elected to Congress and then thinks so little of the job that they don’t bother showing up for work.

We’re not in a situation where Gomez is in actual violation of the law right now, but that’s certainly no way to make a good first impression, either with your new colleagues or the people back home who voted for you. Poor showing, Mr. Gomez. You have a job to do. Perhaps it’s time you showed up for work.