he week of October 16, week Council President Paul Krekorian and five other Councilmembers accompanied Mayor Karen Bass to Washington D.C. to advocate for the City in meetings with the executive and legislative branches of the federal government. Council President Krekorian, Assistant President Pro Tem Bob Blumenfield, and Councilmembers Eunisses Hernandez, Heather Hutt, Traci Park, and Hugo Soto-Martinez met with members of California’s congressional delegation and the Biden administration to press for additional resources to meet the City’s needs.
On the first day, the L.A. delegation met with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. The administration has been supportive of many of L.A.’s transportation priorities, including the East San Fernando Valley Light Rail Project. We will need the federal government’s continued support as we expand and modernize our transportation infrastructure, relieving congestion, reducing carbon emissions, making transit easier and safer for workers, students, shoppers and families.
The delegation also met with two of the President’s Senior Advisers: Director of Intergovernmental Affairs Tom Perez, and Director of the Domestic Policy Council Neera Tanden. President Biden’s ALL INside initiative and the the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, comprising 19 federal agencies, are already working with the City move unhoused Angelenos off the streets and into permanent housing. The delegation urged the White House to help remove administrative barriers to housing and urged continued federal support to confront the housing and homelessness crisis in Los Angeles.
The delegation had a long discussion with President Biden’s Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Shalanda Young. Los Angeles makes an enormous contribution to the American economy; the federal government must also assume a share of responsibility for some of the costs that our dynamic economy imposes on the City.
Secretary of Homeland Security Alexander Mayorkas, who was born in Cuba and raised in Los Angeles, knows well how important immigration issues are to Los Angeles. The Mayor and Councilmembers requested federal funding to address the arrival of migrants on buses sent from Texas, and expedited payment of reimbursements that FEMA owes the City for COVID-related expenses. The Secretary and the delegation discussed further collaboration to combat the epidemic of drug overdoses due to smuggling of fentanyl and opioids through our ports and borders. The Secretary also provided an update on the Department’s efforts to prevent acts of violence in the United States incited by the Israel-Hamas conflict.
Los Angeles needs Washington to expand access to supportive housing for our unhoused veterans. This includes providing more housing vouchers and building interim housing and permanent supportive housing on VA-owned land in Los Angeles. The delegates made this point in their meeting with Denis McDonough, Secretary of Veterans Affairs (the VA).
The L.A. delegation also took these concerns to their meeting with Marcia Fudge, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). In August, HUD announced a critical agreement to help the City of Los Angeles bring more Angelenos inside by waiving paperwork requirements for housing that most unhoused persons were unable to meet. The L.A. delegation asked the Department to ease certification requirements for rental assistance, expand eligibility and funding for housing vouchers, and provide financial support to bring more affordable housing units online. They also insisted that HUD ensure that veterans who receive federal disability stipends are not disqualified from federal housing assistance, as happened in the past.
After visiting Congressional leaders including L.A. area Representatives Adam Schiff, Tony Cardenas, Maxine Waters, Brad Sherman and Ted Lieu, as well as Senators Alex Padilla, Bernie Sanders and Amy Klobuchar, and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, the delegation paid a late-night-night visit to the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. Dr. King's words, inscribed on the walls of the memorial, remain an enduring inspiration, one the entire delegation will take home to Los Angeles as a powerful memento of their mission to Washington.