Mike Pence to visit border Monday

WASHINGTON -- Vice President Mike Pence will visit the Calexico area on Monday morning to inspect the construction of a barrier along the U.S.- Mexico border, the White House announced Saturday.

After receiving a briefing on the construction of the border wall from U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials, Pence is expected to speak to Department of Homeland Security and Border Patrol employees at El Centro Station, 221 West Aten Road in Imperial.

Before his visit to San Diego, Pence was scheduled to arrive in the Los Angeles area Saturday afternoon for a visit that will include two political fundraisers and a private tour of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.

The visit comes one week before the launch of NASA's next mission to Mars -- Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Godesay and Heat Transport (InSight). The mission will be the first to peer deep beneath the Martian surface, studying the planet's interior by measuring its heat output and listening for marsquakes, seismic events similar to earthquakes.

InSight will be the first planetary mission to take off from the West Coast, launching from Space Launch Complex-3 at Vandenberg Air Force Base near Lompoc.

Pence is the chairman of the National Space Council.

In the first meeting of the council in 25 years in October, Pence said, "We won the race to the moon a half a century ago, and now we will win the 21st century in space. Under President Trump's leadership and with the guidance of this National Space Council, the United States will usher in a new era of space leadership for our nation that will benefit every facet of our national life."

Pence and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy will headline a fundraising brunch at noon Sunday at the Malibu home of lawyer and financier Marc Stern and his wife Eva, according to an invitation posted on the political news website Politico.

Tickets for the event start at $10,000 per couple, according to the invitation. Other ticket packages are available for $25,000, $50,000 and $100,000 per couple.

Some of those packages also include tickets to a roundtable discussion with Pence scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday at an undisclosed location in Beverly Hills.

According to the invitation, the events will benefit "Protect the House," a fundraising collaboration that includes Pence's Leadership PAC and the National Republican Congressional Committee to benefit 20 Republican House members considered vulnerable in the November midterm elections.

McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, is considered a strong contender to replace the retiring Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, as Speaker of the House.