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Economy

Local Chamber of Commerce brings Congress to San Diego

Every year, the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce hosts its Congressional Luncheon. Members of the region’s congressional delegation were part of an unscripted panel that covered federal issues including border region workforce, the 2022 general election and the economy.

Nearly 400 San Diego business and community leaders came together to get an update from representatives Darrell Issa, Sara Jacobs, Scott Peters and Juan Vargas on current policies and legislations that affect our community.

“(The luncheon is) important because federal policy really affects San Diego," said Jerry Sanders, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce president and CEO. "It affects us at the border. It affects tourism, the airport. It affects the money that we get.”

Monday’s goal was to discuss the critical issues facing Congress, and the policy and legislation that directly impact the San Diego community.

“We want to make sure that we take care of the economies that power San Diego, that bring money into San Diego," said Rep. Scott Peters, D-52. "That’s the military, that’s the border, that’s science and technology, that’s tourism which was the hardest hit by the pandemic."

Several representatives addressed the border, including Rep. Juan Vargas, D-51.

“The problem that we have at the border right now is really how long it takes to move goods, services and people across the border,” Vargas said. “We have in fact spent a lot of money making the border more efficient, the problem is we don’t have enough staff and we’re trying to get more staff to make things move more quickly and expeditiously.”

“Obviously it’s something that really impacts our economy, our community here in San Diego,” said Rep. Sara Jacobs, D-53.

“In San Diego we see the border, not as a threat, but as an opportunity. It generates a lot of jobs and commerce," said Peters. "It’s part of our culture as well as part of our economy.”

Veterans were another major concern. Thousands live here in San Diego, and many are waiting for passage of the PACT Act, a bill to expand medical care for vets exposed to toxic chemicals.

“America has to keep its promise to its veterans. These people have sacrificed more than they bargained for and we need to support them through the passage of this bill,” Peters said.

Another hot topic was lack of access to high quality, affordable childcare. Congressmember Sara Jacobs said this was a nationwide problem and an acute problem in San Diego.

“Even before the pandemic we had 60% of families in San Diego County who couldn’t find childcare that met their needs and we know that it’s only gotten worse since more than 500 child care centers have closed since the pandemic,” Jacobs said.

Election politics did come up, and Republican Congressman Darrell Issa predicted the House would flip back to his party's control.

“Assuming that for a moment, even if it's by a small amount, it means we'll be back to divided government, back to what I think the American people are pretty comfortable with,” Issa said. “No one party running things, but rather, genuine compromise being necessary in order to do everything.”

While the luncheon was a chance for the representatives to tell business leaders what they’ve accomplished, Sanders said he hopes they’ll also take what they’ve learned back to Washington.

“We hope that the representatives leave here knowing exactly what the business community in San Diego thinks and what we value,” Sanders said.