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Padilla recently announced his reelection campaign, indicating he has no interest in leaving his appointed position when it ends in 2023. (DNCC via Getty Images file photo)
Padilla recently announced his reelection campaign, indicating he has no interest in leaving his appointed position when it ends in 2023. Photo: DNCC/Getty Images

Alex Padilla has emerged as one of the most progressive U.S. Senators, and he wants to stay

The First Latino Senator from California recently launched his reelection campaign.

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Alex Padilla replaced now-Vice President Kamala Harris in the Senate, becoming California’s first Latino Senator, and solidifying his state’s largely liberal stance in the national arena. He was appointed by longtime ally, Gov. Gavin Newsom to complete the remainder of Harris’ tenure, set to end in 2023.

In preparation, he has already launched his reelection campaign to remain one of the U.S. Senators of the fifth-largest economy in the world. Only months into his position, Padilla has already cemented himself as a staunch proponent of progressive policies, and these ideologies will be integral to his campaign.

In mere months, Padilla has faced insurrection, impeachment, an inauguration, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, stimulus rollouts, and tackling the filibuster. 

From advocating for voting rights, addressing climate change, investing in infrastructure, improving the pathway to citizenship and calling for tuition-free higher education, he’s joined established progressives like Elizabeth Warren in the Senate and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to roll-out initiatives on universal child care, and the Green New Deal. 

Padilla recently announced his reelection campaign, indicating he has no interest in leaving his appointed position when it ends in 2023. Just four months into his tenure, he’s got a lot to show for.

Some of Padilla’s main legislative endeavors
 
One of California’s most pressing issues, particularly in Southern California, is immigration reform. It has the highest concentration of immigrants of any state in the nation, and without a comprehensive immigration reform bill in decades, Padilla has taken this moment to take action. 

That’s especially now with the increased media focus and political lines drawn over the increase of immigrants and asylum seekers in the U.S.-Mexico Border. While a larger bill centered on reform is ultimately the goal, legislators like Padilla have in the meantime been focused on piecemeal bills to work on the issue bit-by-bit.

His first bill, the Citizenship for Essential Workers Act, would provide a pathway to citizenship for over 5 million undocumented essential workers in the U.S., while also on the front lines of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Padilla is the only first-generation child of Mexican parents — both immigrants — to serve in the U.S. Senate. 

In his time in office, Padilla has made considerable investment in renewable energy initiatives and infrastructure. 

He led a group of Democrats in a legislation that would invest $25 billion to convert the nation’s fleet of gasoline and diesel-powered yellow school buses into electric vehicles — a plan they say will ultimately also improve child health.

He also joined Rep. Ocasio Cortez in the reintroduction of the Green New Deal alongside Sen. Ed Markey. The landmark legislation has become a main point of GOP criticism, but Padilla has aligned with the bill in earnest, even delivering his own remark at the bill’s unveiling at the Capitol. 

“It’s time for another New Deal for the American people,” he wrote on Twitter following the event. “One that tackles the climate crisis head-on, creates good-paying jobs through a Civilian Climate Corps, and ensures that communities of color that have been left out are included in our economic recovery.”

Padilla has also become a strong advocate for tuition-free higher education, joining longtime progressive icon Sen. Bernie Sanders, and Progressive Caucus Chair, Pramila Jayapal, to introduce a bill that would make public colleges tuition free, and ensure higher education is accessible to all. 

It’s based on the premise that a high school education no longer makes the cut to prosper in the United States.

What has become one of Padilla’s most pressing fights since entering the Senate, perhaps more pressing than the rest, is his advocacy for ending the filibuster. As Congress currently stands, most of his heavily progressive initiatives face uphill battles, as it forces a 60-vote threshold. 

He recently told CNN that voting rights — at stake because of voter suppression bills in Texas, Arizona, and more — may be the issue worth eliminating the filibuster for, along with climate change, health care and voting rights.

“I haven't wasted any time getting to work,” Padilla said in his first reelection campaign video.

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