The Chamber led 150 elected officials and business leaders on the annual “One Region, One Voice, Mission to Washington D.C.” September 27 – 30, 2015. During the trip, the bi-national delegation met with members of the San Diego Congressional delegation, along with other Congressional leaders and key policy makers to discuss critical issues for the economy of the San Diego/Baja California mega-region: water, transportation, military/veterans, trade, healthcare, cross-border, and housing/homelessness. We were successful in advancing many of these issues and are continuing to follow up on action items to keep the momentum we created with those in Washington going. Some of the highlights from the trip include:
- Transportation & Infrastructure: We received great information related to funding from the Department of Transportation on behalf of the SANDAG, and a date for the announcement of the TIGER grant program awardees. We also heard new information regarding a grant program for engineers and students to advance their careers in transportation during a panel at the White House.We initiated talks with CBP to plan a connection between the San Diego Trolley and a new light rail system in Tijuana/Tecate.
- Veterans Affairs: Our team spoke with Senator John McCain regarding support for veterans’ services in our region, including Veterans Community Connections and zero8hundred. I’m happy to report that, as a result of our meeting, Senator McCain has assigned a staffer to specifically work on this regional issue.Separately, in the international trade track, we developed an outreach plan targeted to the veteran community as an effort to fill hundreds of vacancies at the Customs and Border Protection agency with San Diego’s veterans.
- Water: Potable reuse is now a major focus for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This is great news for San Diego as our City’s Pure Water Program continues to address the need for a locally-controlled, drought-proof water supply. Additionally, we heard great news from the EPA concerning future streamlined waivers for the Point Loma wastewater treatment plant. We also heard from Senator Feinstein regarding her drought legislation and how the San Diego region can compete for funding.
- Cross-Border: In a meeting held at the Wilson Center, representatives from organizations along the U.S. Mexico border, agreed to join the Chamber’s efforts in building a joint advocacy strategy for economic development in the border region.
- During our meeting with Department of State, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Sue Saarnio we advocated for expanded use of the joint inspection facility at the future Otay II Port of Entry currently limited to agricultural products. Asst. Secretary Saarnio took immediate action and reached out to Mexican counterparts and partner agencies (DHS) to expand the pre-inspection to other goods.
Thanks to everyone who attended and contributed to making this our greatest delegation trip yet! Be sure to sign up for our Policy Update newsletter and visit our Facebook for photos from the trip. And, finally – to get a delegate’s perspective – read Amanda Caniglia’s “Life on the Mesa” San Diego Magazine blog where she recaps her experience in Washington, D.C.