2019 MISSION TO WASHINGTON D.C. RECAP

The 2019 Mission to Washington D.C. represents the Chamber’s largest delegation trip to date. The group of 162 business and civic leaders from San Diego and Baja California traveled to the nation’s capital to advocate for the policies and projects that will help grow business, create jobs, and maintain a thriving CaliBaja region.

  • Our group included five mayors and several other elected officials from San Diego and Baja. Joining us were:
    • San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer
    • Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina
    • Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear
    • Poway Mayor Steve Vaus
    • Tijuana Mayor Juan Manuel Gastelum
    • Supervisor Greg Cox
    • San Diego City Council Members: Jen Campbell, Chris Cate, Mark Kersey, Monica Montgomery and Vivian Moreno
    • Consul Generals Sue Saarnio and Carlos Gutierrez
    • Tijuana City Councilmembers Ivette Casillas and Monica Vega
    • Imperial Beach City Councilmembers Paloma Aguirre and Mark West, and
    • Coronado City Councilmember Bill Sandke

Over three days from September 22 through 25, the delegation took part in more than 40 meetings to advocate for issues vital to the regional business community. Delegates met with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, San Diego Congressional Representatives Susan Davis, Mike Levin, Scott Peters, and Juan Vargas, Mexican Ambassador Martha Barcena, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador C. J. Mahoney, Acting Secretary of Labor Patrick Pizzella, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, representatives from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and many others. These meetings covered a range of issues from advancing trade and the ratification of the USMCA, to transboundary pollution, housing and homelessness, healthcare, defense and veterans, transportation, border infrastructure, and workforce development.

Some of the key trip highlights and accomplishments:

  • Ratification of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, the new North American free-trade agreement, was a big focus. The delegation heard from the Mexican Ambassador to the U.S., the U.S. Trade Representative, and met with Speaker Pelosi’s staff and were pleasantly surprised by the positive comments our congress members, and Senator Feinstein made on the outlook for the agreement. On Tuesday afternoon news of impeachment proceedings broke and brought a new urgency and focus to the agreement. This highlighted the need for us to work even harder to press for ratification of this critical agreement.
  • Another key priority was the transboundary pollution issue. In meetings with the EPA, Department of State, congressional representatives, and Senator Dianne Feinstein, we were able to convey support for the high priority infrastructure projects and legislation that would provide the funding necessary to move these projects forward. The EPA is working with engineers to determine which projects to pursue first and expects to have a prioritized list of projects by the end of fall. In our meeting with the Department of State on Tuesday, they committed to taking the lead to call the official designated by Mexico’s President Lopez Obrador to handle the pollution issue. By Wednesday the two offices were in contact. County Supervisor Greg Cox and regional Mayors including Mayor Faulconer and Mayor Dedina met with White House and EPA to make the case for funding for water infrastructure projects to address the sewage spills. Mexican Ambassador Martha Barcena shared that Mexico is focused on addressing the pollution with long-term, not reactive, solutions. Ambassador highlighted the importance of the role of the NADBank in providing funding and prioritizing infrastructure projects to address the many factors at play in the pollution issue.
  • Congressmember Scott Peters led a panel discussion on climate politics, science, and morality and how bipartisanship is key to advancing legislation on climate change.
  • We found a path forward for a possible grant for San Diego from the office of community policing programs.
  • Delegates got the federal government perspective on addressing homelessness from representatives with Housing & Urban Development; the nonprofit, non-partisan National Alliance to End Homelessness; and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness which is responsible for coordinating the Federal government response to homelessness.
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection shared an update noting that staffing is at an all-time high. Efforts to streamline the hiring process and provide incentives are successful in attracting and retaining officers. Staffing is critical for reducing border wait times which cost our region over $7 billion in revenue each year. CBP also shared news that new technology is being implemented, with more to come in the next couple of years to facilitate trade while strengthening border security. By 2022, 40% of vehicles and 72% of trucks will be scanned with x-rays, currently, 16% of vehicles get x-rayed. CBP recognized our region for being pioneers on programs and thanked our delegates for sharing input and ideas which later become a reality.

Our members are vital to the work we do at the Chamber and that is very evident on our delegation trips. Having a large, diverse group sends a strong message as we tell our region’s story and advocate for the projects and policies that are crucial to the business community on both sides of the border. We simply wouldn’t be as effective without each of our delegates and we thank everyone who participated for making this important investment.

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