Capital Region Executive Leadership Mission Presented Chance to Advocate, Build Relations Says SAPCC's Fong-Kushida

March 17, 2017 | 

A group of Sacramento-area business and government leaders returned late Wednesday from a four-day lobbying trip to Washington DC seeking to secure funds for the Sacramento region. The Capital Region Executive Leadership Mission was organized by, among others, the Sacramento Asian-Pacific Chamber of Commerce (SAPCC) and sought to build relations with the Trump administration.

One of the architects of the mission, Pat Fong-Kushida, President and Chief Executive Officer of the SAPCC as well as the California Asian Chamber of Commerce, said plans for the trip were hatched last August knowing a new administration would be taking office this January. Starting in August 2016 when the idea for the mission was hatched, Fong-Kushida and her staff developed the delegation's policy agenda and scheduled the numerous meeting which included a briefing at the Whitehouse. 

Notwithstanding President Donald Trump's proposed budget which was unveiled as mission drew to a close that seeks to cut spending on popular programs ranging from senior Meals on Wheels to Department of Transportation's TIGER grant program, which is particularly popular with municipalities like Elk Grove and Sacramento, Fong-Kushida said it was crucial to make contacts with officials in the new administration,

"We went back at a very interesting time right before the budget reconciliation," Fong-Kusida said.

Among the issues the delegation advocated for at various federal agencies including the Federal Aviation Administration, Small Business Administration, Housing and Urban Development, Army Corp of Engineers, and the United States Department of Agriculture was homelessness, healthcare, workforce development, food security, security at Sacramento International Airport and numerous regional transportation infrastructure projects. 

"If he [President Trump] is really serious about infrastructure needs, if he is really serious about job creation, those are the same things we are serious about," Fong-Kusida stated. "The infrastructure dollars, the workforce dollars, education dollars need to remain intact because we are tackling those same issues."

In addition to conferring with Trump administration officials, the delegation also met with Senator Kamala Harris and Congressional Representatives Doris Matsui, Doug LaMalfa, and Ami Bera. The delegation also met with the American Hospital Association. 

"Our goal from a regional perspective is to get the Trump administration and the federal agencies to understand our regional economy," she said. 

Noting that while President Trump's communications are often blusterous, Fong-Kusida said she believes that he and his administration nonetheless want the best for constituents. Many of these individuals they met with she added, have been in their positions for a length of time and were familiar with the issues facing communities. 

"We were encouraged that despite all the torrent, that there were folks that there were going to be people making policy, making recommendations are thoughtful people that were willing to listen," Fong Kusida said. 

As with any President, Fong-Kushida said the trip was an opportunity for the delegation, which included Elk Grove Council Members Pat Hume and Darren Suen, to gauge how the new administration might affect local policy as well as a chance to build relations. 

Regarding future lobbying trips, Fong-Kushida said participants would soon meet to discuss what their plans might be. 

"We have to do a debrief," she said. "So I anticipate after the debrief that we will know more about the pros and cons and how we move forward."

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