WASHINGTON - Democratic Rep. Alan Lowenthal was sworn in by House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday, officially sending one of Long Beach's most well-known political names to the U.S. Capitol.

In an interview before his inauguration, Lowenthal, 71, said he expects to spend his first two months in office dealing with deficit reduction, the debt ceiling and sequestration - the name for an automatic $1.2 trillion in cuts divided equally between domestic programs and defense.

Lowenthal intends to heed voters' calls to bridge the partisan divide that has consumed Washington, a message he said came up repeatedly on the campaign trail.

"People want us to get things done," Lowenthal said. "They're less concerned about ideology, and more concerned about making government work."

Lowenthal defeated Republican Long Beach Councilman Gary DeLong by 13 percentage points in November to win the newly drawn 47th Congressional District.

During the campaign, Lowenthal endorsed much of President Barack Obama's agenda, including the Affordable Care Act and American Jobs Act.

He also supported upgrades to the educational system like improved evaluations for teachers and an expanded role for community colleges, as well as environmental protection, a keystone of his political career.


Advertisement

As a continuation of that, Lowenthal said one of his first goals in office will be seeing how the federal government can partner with local government to find what resources are available to get to zero emissions between the Port of Long Beach and near-dock rail facilities.

He said there is a "general feeling" among incoming members of a desire to work together, a contrast with the acrimony created by recent, last-hour "fiscal cliff" negotiations that staved off middle-class tax increases and delayed sequestration, along with other debt-related discussions.

According to Lowenthal, while Democrats - and Senate Republicans - appear united, House Republicans seem fractured after about a third of the caucus broke with other party members and voted for the fiscal cliff deal.

"There's a split that has taken place," he said. "Hopefully it's a positive split that will move things toward the middle and both parties will find common ground."

Lowenthal was accompanied at the swearing-in ceremony by his wife, Dr. Debbie Malumed, 57; son Danny, 44; niece Angela, 11; and grandson Avi, 10.

Prior to his inauguration, Lowenthal was appointed to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

The 47th District includes most of Long Beach, all of Signal Hill and part of Lakewood and stretches east to include all or part of the Orange County cities of Buena Park, Cypress, Garden Grove, Los Alamitos, Stanton, Rossmoor and Westminster.

A former Cal State Long Beach psychology professor, Lowenthal was first elected to the Long Beach City Council in 1992. He then served in the Assembly from 1998 until 2004, then in the state Senate until December.

On the brink of becoming a congressman, Lowenthal reflected on his journey from a professor and community organizer to Washington over the past 21 years.

"I'm sometimes struck with the institution itself, and the fact that I have the opportunity to serve my community is a great honor," Lowenthal said.

"I know many people hold Congress in low esteem, but to me to be here is still a great, great honor."

eric.bradley@presstelegram.com, 562-714-2104, twitter.com/EricBradleyPT