Timing is everything. The Bay Area Council this week (July 28-30) arrived in Washington, D.C., as key developments were unfolding on transportation, water and trade. Council Chair Michael Covarrubias of TMG Partners and Government Relations Committee Co-Chair Peter Brightbill of Wells Fargo joined Council CEO Jim Wunderman in leading a delegation of Bay Area business and government leaders to the nation’s capital.
The Council got an advance briefing from Sen. Dianne Feinstein on her $1.3 billion California Emergency Drought Act, which she formally introduced only hours later. Sen. Feinstein also expressed support for the Council’s initiative to relieve congestion on the 101 corridor linking San Francisco, Silicon Valley and San Jose.
Transportation was a major focus of several meetings led by Council Transportation Co-Chairs Rosemary Turner of UPS and John Eddy of Arup. A group that included Caltrain representatives received good news in our efforts to secure critical funding necessary to keep the Caltrain electrification project on track. Acting Federal Transit Administrator Therese McMillan informed the group that the electrification project, which is among the Council’s policy priorities, has been accepted into FTA’s Core Capacity grants program. That now puts it in a very favorable position to be included in President Obama’s budget and ultimately a final appropriations bill. The Council will be monitoring future progress and continuing its advocacy for this important project.
The controversial federal highway funding bill was a primary subject of talks with U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Victor Mendez and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi’s office just ahead of a key House vote to keep the legislation alive. The meeting with Pelosi’s office included discussion of a bold statewide water management plan that the Council currently is developing.
Led by Cybersecurity Committee Co-Chair Batya Forsyth of Hanson Bridgett, delegates met with White House Chief Digital Officer Jason Goldman and White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Michael Daniel on the growing threat of cybersecurity breaches and strategies for addressing them. The delegation was also treated to an exclusive tour of Homeland Security’s National Cybersecurity & Communications Integration Center in Arlington, Va., led by Deputy Assistant Secretary and retired Brigadier General Greg Touhill.
East Bay Rep. Eric Swalwell, the ranking Democrat on the House Subcommittee on the Central Intelligence Agency, briefed delegates on the Iran nuclear deal. There was also discussion on the fast-growing Tri-Valley area, and he thanked the Bay Area Council Economic Institute for its Tri-Valley Rising: Its Vital Role in the Bay Area Economy report.
Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Robert Holleyman discussed progress on the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement, which the Bay Area Council strongly supports. He outlined new digital trade provisions to be included in the agreement that will be important in supporting the Bay Area’s tech and innovation economy.
Thank you to our entire delegation and special thanks to Rosemary Turner and UPS for hosting the Council at a wonderful luncheon. Each year, the Council’s advocacy trip to D.C. is critical for advancing policies that will sustain growth and ensure future economic prosperity for the Bay Area. To engage in our federal policy work, please contact Senior Advisor George Broder.