Tuesday, September 11, 2012

San Diego Chamber's DC Trip Launches

More than 100 delegates from San Diego descended upon Washington DC today, bringing San Diego priorities and weather with them.

Tonight was the official kickoff with a welcome reception at The Madison Hotel, hosted by Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney.

Chamber president and CEO, Ruben Barrales, kicked off remarks followed by Chamber chairman, Mark Leslie, and trip chairman, Ben Haddad.

Councilmember Kevin Faulconer
Representatives from Buchanan's DC office also spoke about the importance of San Diego having a presence in DC, especially for issues such as telecommunications. They also mentioned Tuesday's luncheon where another hot issue, healthcare, would be discussed.

Trip Chairman, Ben Haddad and his wife, with Chamber Board Chair, Mark Leslie
Stay tuned as meetings on the Hill get underway tomorrow.

Monday's Meetings

The first day of meetings on Monday, September 10th proved to be a busy yet very successful and worthwhile day.  A total of 30 meetings were scheduled with more than 60 representatives from Congressional offices, the Pentagon, Veterans Administration, Department of Commerce, Department of Labor, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and many others.

Deputy Secretary of State, Matthew Rooney, with delegates at the Department of State
Specific highlights include a morning meeting with Matthew Rooney, Deputy Secretary of State and an afternoon meeting at the Pentagon with the Deputy Comptroller, John Roth in the Office of the Undersecretary of the Defense.

The meeting with Rooney confirmed the temporary plans for the San Ysidro border crossing as well as the issues surrounding the pedestrian crossing at the site.  Rooney spoke about the need for "habits of cooperation" amongst US and Mexico officials on the issue and assured delegates that progress was being made.  Rooney did stress that trips from San Diego delegates and others were crucial in continuing to make the 21st Century Cross Border Initiative a priority and to make sure that the temporary solution did not remain temporary.
Delegates with the Chamber's MBC Director, James Clark, at the Department of State

The Pentagon's official briefing room
The Pentagon meeting included a brief tour of the Pentagon and then delegates met with Roth to discuss the issue of sequestration.  Roth agreed that sequestration would be devastating for the Department of Defense and across all other industries, sectors and localities.  If Congressional leaders do not take action to prevent the cuts from taking place in January 2013, it would mean another $50 billion reduction for the DOD alone.  Roth concluded by saying that we should all be concerned about sequestration because it represents uncertainty but warned delegates to not "self-sequestrate" before it was absolutely necessary. 

Mark Cafferty, Ruben Barrales and Bill Earley at the Pentagon
In between the delegation met at the DC offices of McKenna Long & Aldridge for lunch and to get an insiders look at the upcoming November elections, insights on cyber security and much more.

Luncheon at McKenna Long & Aldridge's DC office
The meeting-filled day ended with a reception at Microsoft's DC office.  Filled with interactive games and delicious food, it was the perfect ending to a busy day.  Afterwards delegations went out on the town to cheer on the San Diego Chargers against the Raiders.