Alex Padilla

NBC 7's Exclusive Interview With CA Senator Alex Padilla

NBC 7's political reporter Priya Sridhar spoke one on one with the new United States Senator from California

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Senator Alex Padilla became the first Latino to represent California in the United States Senate after Governor Gavin Newsom appointed him to finish the rest of Kamala Harris' term following her election to Vice President.

Senator Padilla, formerly the Secretary of State of California, says he's still adjusting to the weather and the different time zone at his new job in Washington D.C.

"We're still in the wake of the insurrection of January 6, asking the questions of how did that happen, how do we prevent it from happening again, holding people accountable. I sat through an impeachment trial and all those sorts of things ....it's been the proverbial drinking out of a fire hose," Senator Padilla said.

COVID-19 Relief Bill:

Senator Padilla says he's proud to have voted for the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill President Biden recently signed that he believes will bring greatly needed resources to California.

"I think the final version wasn’t perfect. I’d like to have seen maybe some of the numbers go up in that package or the inclusion of the raise of the minimum wage, for example, but that being said the final product is going to be immensely helpful to California and the country."

He says he was disappointed that the bill had no Republican support.

"We were trying hard to convince them to get them on board, to get this done on a bipartisan basis because we know that Covid-19 has not discriminated. It has impacted both red states and blue states republican families and democratic families."

Coronavirus Pandemic:

Senator Padilla says he believes the money from the relief bill will help with the supply and distribution of vaccines. He says he received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine shortly after he was sworn into office at the advice of a Capitol physician.

"I can attest, it is safe, I note it is effective and I implore anybody and everybody once it's available to you, to please get vaccinated. That’s how you’ll protect yourself, how you’ll protect your family, help protect your community and get us all through this pandemic."

Immigration:

Senator Padilla says he has a close eye on the growing numbers of unaccompanied minors arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border.

"I do think it’s a developing crisis," he said. "President Biden has made it clear it's all hands on deck time, not just to respond to the developing situation at the border, we're going to treat those kids humanely and safely because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but we have a lot of work to do not just to undo the executive orders on immigration of Donald Trump, but to reform our immigration system as a whole."

Senator Padilla says it is Congress' job to hold the White House and the different departments and agencies tasked with enforcing and managing the country's immigration system responsible.

"I think in the short term we’re scrambling to expand capacity quickly, but more importantly, doing our best to match those children up with either extended family or this version of a foster care system, to put them in a much more humane location while they're waiting for the process as they're seeking asylum."

Governor Newsom Recall:

Senator Padilla says he his absolutely opposed to any efforts to recall California Governor Gavin Newsom.

"It is pretty straightforward. The same Republican forces that refuse to hold Donald Trump accountable for the violent insurrection and the deadly insurrection of January 6 are now trying to hold Gavin Newsom accountable for the failure of Donald Trump to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic," Senator Padilla said. "It's beyond hypocritical, it’s a waste of time, energy, and resources that are better directed at responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. We wouldn’t be here, the frustration, the anxiety people feel, we wouldn’t be here if Trump had led or if so many other governors had taken the bold action that Governor Newsom did early on in the crisis."

Senator Padilla would have to run for election for a six-year term next year, in 2022.

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