Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will join a delegation of about 200 Los Angeles civic leaders, business groups and transportation activists Monday for an annual lobbying trip to Washington, D.C., aimed at winning federal money and political support for government projects in Los Angeles.
The trip is being led by the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. The delegates will meet with senior administration officials, U.S. senators Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, both D-Calif., Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield.
The group is expected to argue for passage of a surface transportation bill now stalled in Congress. A section of the bill that could help Los Angeles County get accelerated federal funding for a dozen transportation projects, including a subway extension to Westwood and an extension of the Green Line to LAX, which is said to have bipartisan support.
In November, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved a two-year, $109 billion surface transportation bill that includes a boost in funding for a federal loan program that would help pay for 12 transportation projects in 10 years instead of the scheduled 30 years.
The group also seeks more federal Customs and Border Patrol agents Los Angeles International Airport, more federal money for education and political support for a bringing water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to Southern California.
Villaraigosa, whose trip is being funded by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, is scheduled to return to Los Angeles on Wednesday. The trip makes the mayor's eighth outside the city this year and his second to nation's capital in four days. Last week, he was in Washington to try to persuade Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to let school districts -- not just states -- use improved grades on standardized tests and improved dropout rates to apply for "Race to the Top" grants, which is a $4.35 billion program. He also wants school districts to be exempted from No Child Left Behind Act, which mandated standardized testing as a requirement for public schools to get federal funding.
States can apply for waivers, but California education officials did not apply by the deadline, saying Duncan's conditions for waivers are too restrictive.