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Knight cites frustrations, progress during first year in Congress

Posted: January 1, 2016 11:09 a.m.
Updated: January 1, 2016 11:09 a.m.
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When asked to reflect on his first year on Capitol Hill, Congressman Steve Knight acknowledged this week that it hasn’t been a completely rosy experience.

He cited the sometimes-glacial pace of things and a process that can seem to stymie progress more than hasten it.

But perhaps the most difficult aspect of his first full year as the Santa Clarita Valley’s representative in Congress was fulfilling a pledge he made when campaigning in 2014 — that he would come home to the 25th Congressional District every possible weekend.

Knight, R-Palmdale, jokingly told The Signal Editorial Board during an interview Wednesday that his biggest accomplishment over the last year was “staying married.”

“I am back and forth every week except for the weeks we are not in session,” the freshman congressman said. “It’s a difficult schedule on your spouse.

“It’s hard to fly across this country every week,” he added later. “Not that I didn’t know what I was getting into, but six hours on an airplane is a hard thing.”

Reading helps to pass the time, he said. Knight is also writing a book of his own, “which is the hardest thing in the world,” he said, though he refused to provide any spoilers.

Slow going
Unlike Knight himself, though, Congress can seem to be at a standstill more often than not.

That’s led to what he said has been his biggest frustration — that the legislative process doesn’t function like it should.

“It doesn’t work as well as I thought it would,” he said.

Serving in Congress, he said, “is 100 times harder than (serving in) the California Legislature,” said the former Assembly and state Senate member. That’s despite the fact he was in the distinct minority as a California legislator but now is part of a congressional majority.

A particular thorn in his side has been what he called the “60-vote rule” in the Senate, where 60 of the 100 senators need to agree to move forward with something.

Items that can’t make it through the Senate don’t land on the president’s desk.

“That is the most discouraging part — we should get more issues to the president,” Knight said. “Whether it’s President (Barack) Obama or President Whoever, the president should see these issues and have to make a decision on them.

“Even if it’s a bad idea, I’d rather it go through the process,” he added.

Campaign thoughts
Though he’s focused on moving forward with some of his major legislative efforts in the new year — such as his bill to create a national memorial to mark the site of the St. Francis Dam disaster in the Santa Clarita Valley — Knight is also keeping a close eye on the 2016 presidential campaign.

He’s yet to endorse anyone in the race but said he hopes the still-sizable Republican field slims down sooner rather than later.

“This race is not good for my party,” he said. “The quicker this can narrow down into a reasonable field, the better.”

Of all the Republican candidates, Knight said, he thinks Florida Sen. Marco Rubio stands the best shot of winning against Democratic front-runner and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who he said would be a challenging opponent.
 
“She’s a formidable person,” Knight said. “She’s smart, she has gotten her party behind her ... so it’s going to be hard to beat her.”

Not as rosy, in Knight’s mind, are the chances for the man now dominating many of the headlines and the polls in the Republican field: business magnate Donald Trump.

Knight said he doesn’t think the billionaire “could win the general (election) in a million years.”

So what would the congressman do if it comes down to Trump or Clinton?

“I hope I don’t have to answer that question,” he said.

Lmoney@signalscv.com
661-287-5525
On Twitter @LukeMMoney

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