What to Know in Washington: How Duarte Shapes His Policy Views

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California Republican John Duarte has earned a reputation for independence during his first six months in Congress. He embraces traditional conservative priorities, including border security and regulatory reform, but he’s comfortable breaking with his party when it makes sense for his district.

“I understand that imperfect legislation that improves matters is better than ideological windmill-tilting,” Duarte said in an interview on Capitol Hill. “I’m here taking time off my business and from my family back in the district to serve as a citizen legislator and then go home. And I want to accomplish something while I’m here.”

Duarte, who won his seat by a razor-thin margin, was one of only two Republicans to vote against the GOP border bill last month, arguing the legislation’s worker status verification mandate would hurt farmers and farmworkers back home. His district sits in the predominately Latino San Joaquin Valley, which is known for its extensive farmland.

Ellen M. Gilmer/Bloomberg Government
Rep. John Duarte (R-Calif.) discusses policy in his Capitol Hill office in June.

He’s also one of a handful of Republicans signing on to two long-shot bipartisan bids (H.R. 3599, H.R. 16) to overhaul the immigration system for the first time in decades.

Read more: Republicans Rebuke Biden in Passage of Sweeping Border Package

Duarte’s background as a plant nurseryman and farmer shapes his views on immigration, agriculture, and environmental policy. He was locked in a yearslong legal battle — which ended in a $1.1 million civil settlement — after the federal government accused him of destroying wetlands when plowing. Duarte contends the dispute is an example of government overreach harming farmers, and says he’s committed to reining in administrative agencies.

In addition to wheat, Duarte farms crops like pistachios and walnuts. He’s bringing his focus on specialty crops — or those that aren’t row crops like corn and soybeans — to the House Agriculture Committee as lawmakers write the next five-year farm bill, focused on expanding crop insurance and credit to a wider range of produce. Read Bloomberg Government’s full interview with Duartefrom Ellen M. Gilmer and Maeve Sheehey.


  • President Joe Biden departs the White House at 12:45 a.m. to travel to New York City for a 4 p.m. live interview with MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace.
  • Biden will participate in two campaign receptions in New York City, at 5:30 p.m. and 7:40 p.m.
  • The president will arrive back at the White House at 10:50 p.m.
  • Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre will gaggle aboard Air Force One en route to New York City.

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To contact the reporter on this story: Brandon Lee in Washington at blee@bgov.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kayla Sharpe at ksharpe@bloombergindustry.com

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