Nearly three months after the November election, Long Beach’s new congressman has morphed from a careful, restrained mayor to a prolific, abrasive agitator in Congress.

Rep. Robert Garcia has tweeted 20 times in 30 days poking fun at and calling for the resignation of embattled Rep. George Santos and has used four-letter words to describe his disgust with the policy of congresswomen Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene, all aided by more than a few memes.

And several major news outlets picked up the story about Garcia being sworn into office with a Superman comic beneath the Constitution.

Whatever’s gotten into Garcia, it seems to be working—at least if prestigious assignments in D.C. are the measure.

Garcia last month was elected president of the Democratic freshmen congressional class, snagged the chief of staff for former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and this week, was among a select few freshmen named to two powerful committees: House Oversight and Homeland Security.

After Thursday’s announcement on his committee assignments, he wasted no time describing Greene and Boebert, his colleagues on Oversight, as being part of a Republican “clown show.”

“I’m fired up,” Garcia said in a brief phone interview Friday morning. “I’m not going to allow these extremists to say the pandemic’s not real.”

Garcia, whose mother and stepfather died of COVID-19 in the first few months of the pandemic, said he is uniquely positioned to aggressively push back on the Republican chairman’s plans to investigate whether the virus erupted from a lab leak in Wuhan, China, among other planned inquiries.

During his eight-year tenure as mayor, Garcia presided over a City Council where unanimous votes were the norm. He rarely spoke out unless passage of a policy or a measure was assured; he avoided public conflict, preferring behind-the-scenes maneuvering.

But Washington, D.C., he said, is a different environment, “one that requires turning up the heat.”

Democrats are in the minority, which means Republicans have more control over the flow of proposed legislation. And since the era of Donald Trump, abrasive speech has become a far more common way to harness power, political analysts say.

To be sure, there are some policy and more serious tweets sprinkled within Garcia’s newfound bombast: He announced he joined roughly three dozen co-sponsors of the TRUST in Congress Act, which would bar stock-trading among legislators, and has given interviews about gun violence after the Monterey Park shooting and other issues.

Asked what kinds of legislation he would pitch, Garcia said as part of Homeland Security, he would focus on immigration reform. It’s a common talking point among politicians, but an issue that has eluded any significant action at the federal level since 1986—which, at the time, allowed Garcia and his family to become citizens after they immigrated from Peru.

On this, he said, he hopes there would be opportunities for less abrasive discussions with his Republican counterparts.

“At the end of the day, there will be opportunities to work together,” he said.

Melissa Evans is the executive editor of the Long Beach Post. Reach her at [email protected], @melissaevansLBP or 562-437-5814.