Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Congressman Pete Gallego also talked about the need for immigration reform and prefers comprehensive reform because it could expedite the positive impact it could have for the nation's economy and workforce issues.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Issue Report: International Trade

San Antonio's trade business provides thousands of jobs and millions upon millions in economic impact. Hear from the international trade issue team leader Jose Martinez, President and CEO of the Free Trade Alliance.

Issue Report: Immigration

The SA to DC team each prepared reports on specific issues they will face. Thanks to Manny Pelaez-Prada for leading the immigration issue team.

Issue Report: Cybersecurity

Each issue team gave short presentations on their priorities for SA to DC. Below is the report from the leaders of the Cybersecurity issue team, led by John Dickson, Principal, Denim Group.

Issue Report: Manufacturing

Each issue team gave short presentations on their priorities for SA to DC. Below is the report from the leaders of the Manufacturing issue team, led by Klaus Weiswurm, Owner of ITM.

Issue Report: Water

Each issue team gave short presentations on their priorities for SA to DC. Below is the report from the leaders of the Water issue team, led by Brian Mast, SARA and Bill Peche, SAWS.

Issue Report: Transportation

Each issue team gave short presentations on their priorities for SA to DC. Below is the report from the leaders of the Transportation issue team, led by Vic Boyer, President and CEO of San Antonio Mobility Coalition (SAMCO).

Issue Report: Small Business

Each issue team gave short presentations on their priorities for SA to DC. Below is the report from the leaders of the Small Business issue team, led by Harold Oliver, Chief External Affairs Officer, Accion Texas, Inc.

Issue Report: Hospitality and Tourism

Each issue team gave short presentations on their priorities for SA to DC. Below is the report from the leaders of the Hospitality and Tourism issue team, led by Davis Phillips, President of Phillips Entertainment.

Issue Report: Healthcare and Biosciences

Each issue team gave short presentations on their priorities for SA to DC. Below is the report from the leaders of the Healthcare and Bioscience issue team, led by Krista Piferrer, Executive Vice President at BCFS.

Issue Report: Energy

Each issue team gave short presentations on their priorities for SA to DC. Below is the report from the leaders of the Energy issue team, led by Rudy Garza, Vice President of External Relations, CPS Energy.

Issue Report: Aerospace

Each issue team gave short presentations on their priorities for SA to DC. Below is the report from the leaders of the Aerospace issue team, led by Jim Perschbach, Partner, Bracewell Guiliani.

Issue Report: Education and Workforce Development

Each issue team gave short presentations on their priorities for SA to DC. Below is the report from the leaders of the Education and Workforce Development issue team, led by Romanita Matta-Barrera and Dr. Raul Reyna, UTSA.

Senator Cruz talks economics and politics

If we could reform the tax system to decrease compliance costs, it would produce economic growth, argues Senator Ted Cruz in his discussion with the SA to DC delegation on February 4. More than 110 business leaders from San Antonio were in Washington delivering the business community's legislative priorities to our elected officials.

"We host a lot of small business focus groups and we will go around the table and I ask them to share an issue that is weighing on their heart," Senator Cruz said. He reported that he is hearing that Obamacare, is one of the concerns he hears the most.  "I believe the most important regulatory change we can accomplish is to repeal every word of Obamacare," he said. "I've not been shy about that."

Senator Cruz also said he would like to move "as close as possible to a simple flat tax." This, he said would be something that would be so easy that citizens could fill out their taxes on a postcard that is simple, fair and understandable. He acknowledged that tax reform is not impossible with two parties in leadership, but noted that during the Reagan administration, bipartisan tax reform happened and it helped the economy to improve significantly. With economic growth, we can address our problems in the country. For these reasons, Senator Cruz said his office is focused on economic growth.

Watch the entire video here>>>

Monday, February 3, 2014

Air Force Leader: Nation Must Address Tough Questions about the Military

Gen. Larry O. Spencer, vice chief of staff of the Air Force, told SA to DC participants that
sequestration and the government shutdown made 2013 a challenging year for the military.  And while a budget agreement has addressed those problems for the short term, there is still great uncertainty in the military community about what will happen in 2016 and beyond.  That uncertainty, he said, is "pretty tough on our airmen."

Spencer said the Air Force and other branches are planning for reductions.  "Regardless of how a budget is settled, the Air Force and military will be smaller in the future."  In some respects, this is not unlike the peace dividends reaped following military build-ups in World War II, Vietnam and the Cold War.  What differs with the expected cutbacks following the build-ups for Afghanistan and Iraq, he noted, is that the nation's enemies haven't yet been vanquished, and new adversaries are emerging on the horizon.

Americans need to have a serious conversation about the size of military and capabilities they want and about national defense needs, Spencer advised.  "How much military do the American people want?  How much of GDP do they want to spend?"

Spencer, who went through basic training at Lackland Air Force Base, gave special thanks to the San Antonio community's embrace of the military.  "If we could clone a community to replicate across the military, it would be San Antonio."

Spencer also made a special plea for recognizing and addressing the needs of military personnel with wounds that aren't necessarily visible, including PTSD.  He referred to his own father, an Army veteran who was gravely injured in Korea, and failed to seek help until he was 80 years old -- two years before his death.

Maximizing Economic Competiveness through Immigration Reform

To keep with tradition, we scheduled a meeting with the Mexican Embassy staff: Flavio Diaz Miron, North American Director for ProMexico; Moises Zavaleta, Economic Counselor; Antonio Ortiz Mena, Head of Section Economic Affairs; Julian Escutia-Rodriguez, Hispanic Affairs Officer, and Miren Berganza Echebarrena, Assistant of Economic Affairs.  This dynamic conversation focused on issues related to International Trade, Energy Reform, and Immigration. 

Capitol Hill immigration meetings were held at the offices of  Rep. Smith - TX, Rep. Cuellar - TX, Sen. Cruz - TX, and Sen. Feinstein - CA.  During these gatherings the Immigration Issue Team urged Congress to focus on a clear path to  immigration reform.  This issue is essential to continue the tradition of innovation that immigrants have brought to the American economy, and to ensure a level playing field for all workers.  Resolving the immigration status of more than 11 million U.S. residents would unlock billions of dollars of consumer spending and investment.  This resolution would help our country recover from the lingering effects of the economic crisis.

Intelligence Chief Sounds Warning on Security Risks

Gen. James Clapper, the U.S. director of national intelligence, says that never in his 50 years of work in
the intelligence community has he seen the United States more beset with intelligence crises around the world than at the present time.  Clapper made his comments during a morning meeting with members of the SA to DC 2014 mission.

Clapper principally identified the revelations of former government contractor Edward Snowden, which he said were "terribly damaging" to the United States.  Decisions to curtail intelligence operations in light of those revelations combined with budget cuts in the intelligence community have led to "a lot less capacity to keep the country safe."  Lack of job security and conflicting messages from the nation's elected leaders, he said, have taken a serious toll on the morale of the U.S. intelligence workforce.

Externally, Clapper identified two primary external threats.  First, the threat of cyber attacks on U.S. interests is growing, both from A-team players such as Russia and China and from emerging actors in Iran and North Korea.  Second, he said Syria is beginning to resemble Afghanistan in 2000 -- a proving ground for international terrorists for whom he said there is evidence of foreign plots.

The combined lack of intelligence capacity and growing international threat are particularly dangerous.  "What we are doing is accepting greater risk," Clapper said.  "We are at a far higher risk mode than two years ago."

Legendary news reporter kicks off SA to DC briefings

CBS News Senior White House correspondent Bill Plante shared presidential stories and his view of Washington as a longtime political reporter that helped to put the SA to DC delegation in the mood for taking our Federal Legislative Agenda to Capitol Hill at the kickoff breakfast meetings on February 3. He told the delegation that he saw that passing immigration reform is an area where "something big" might actually get done this year.

He also talked about how the Republican party continued to lack discipline, making it hard to predict if they would be able to take the Senate in the mid term elections this November. Plante reaffirmed that the number one opportunity they should focus on is the economy and jobs; however, he was not sure the party would.

Looking forward to the 2016 Presidential election, Plante said that there are 15 or more candidates in the Republican party who will take a shot at the primaries. He said for the Democrats, "it is either Hillary Clinton, or it's not. She is certainly the only candidate right now, if she decides to run."

Plante has been a CBS News White House correspondent during the administrations of Ronald Reagan (beginning in 1981), Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. During the administration of the first President Bush, he was CBS News' State Department correspondent (1989-92). Plante's reports are seen regularly on "CBS This Morning," where he is senior White House correspondent, and the "CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley."

Plante has been based in CBS News' Washington bureau since December 1976. He has covered every Presidential campaign since 1968.He shared several stories at the breakfast that were highlights from his 50-year career covering politics and Washington.

Watch his presentation here.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Having winners and losers is fine for the Super Bowl, not governance

We start out our SA to DC trip with a Super Bowl watching party, and a strong list of priorities that will propel business and community success. Most who come to watch the game will have a favorite team, however, tomorrow, we will lean heavily on our elected officials to find common ground to solve our nation's challenges for a win-win in Washington. Wouldn't that be a refreshing change?

Click here to view the slideshow and see who was there.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

S.A. Business Leaders will visit D.C. to Advance Legislative Priorities

Over 110 San Antonio business leaders will travel to the nation’s capital Feb. 2-5 for SA to DC, where they will present a comprehensive federal agenda representing the regional business needs of our community. For 36 years, the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce has led a delegation from San Antonio to Washington, D.C. to meet with legislators, administration officials and agencies and discuss key actions that will benefit our local community.

The SA to DC trip began in the late 70s with members of the San Antonio Chamber’s Military Affairs Committee traveling to the Pentagon to offer our support for the various Department of Defense (DoD) missions located in our community. While the trip has expanded to include additional hosts and a dozen other key industries and issue topics, the focus on our military missions remains a key objective during the trip.

Participants are scheduled to hear from Jim Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, and General Larry O. Spencer, Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force, in addition to other senior leaders during meetings at the Pentagon. San Antonio is home to several commands and missions that are integral to our national defense, and our delegation will take time in Washington to speak with senior DoD officials about what the new budget agreement means for defense spending, how current service reorganization will affect San Antonio, and what our community can do to continue supporting growth in areas such as military medical training and cybersecurity.

The San Antonio Chamber’s Board of Directors will review and approve the federal agenda on January 23. The key issues and priorities include:
  • funding for the construction of a new federal courthouse in San Antonio;
  • reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank that supports small and large businesses selling to foreign customers;
  • support for the Secretary of the Interior’s nomination of the San Antonio Missions as a UNESCO World Heritage Site; and
  • support for comprehensive immigration reform. 
San Antonio will travel to D.C. with representation from the business community, city and county, our public utilities and many organizations supporting the growth and development of industries across Bexar County.

In addition to the advocacy work accomplished during the trip, there may be no better way to get to know more than 100 of San Antonio’s top executives than during the annual 4-day fly-in to D.C.  There is still limited space available; click here to learn more.
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