October 31, 2023 Minutes-Congressman Pete Aguilar representing the 33rd Congressional District and Chair of the House Democratic Caucus-Hybrid Meeting

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Meeting In-Person and via ZOOM


Present:  Megan Barajas, Carole Beswick, Bill Blankenship, Greg Bradbard, Mike Burrows, Rachelle Bussell, Chris Carrillo, Luis Cetina, Mark Cloud, Ken Coate, Josh Cox, Kevin Dyerly, Dr. Sam Gibbs, T. Milford Harrison, Fran Inman, Mark Kaenel, Lowell King, Doug Kleam, Steve Lambert, Mike Layne, Bill Lemann, Michael Lewin, Temetry Lindsey, Darcy McNaboe, Miguel Mendoza, John Mirau, Tomas Morales, Dan Murphy, Robert Nava, Brian Nestande, Norm Nunez, Vikki Ostermann, Bansree Parikh, Cid Pinedo, Cat Pritchett, Thomas Rice, Dan Roberts, LaShe Rodriguez, Dan Schenkel, Kristine Scott, Patty Senecal, Paul Shimoff, John Tang, Eric Ustation, Michael Wells, Ray Wolfe, and Frank Zabaleta.

Guests:  Birdie Aguilar, Matthew Mena, Carrie Schindler, and Todd Warden.

Announcements: 1) On Thursday, November 2, 2023, Inland Empire Health Plan (IEHP) will hold a kick-off event from 9-11:00 a.m. at the IEHP Community Resource Center celebrating joining Covered California exchange.  This milestone will allow them to offer commercial coverage and increase enrollment of the uninsured within the region. 2) Mobility 21 will again host a holiday reception honoring the California Transportation Commission. The event will be held on Wednesday, December 6, 2023, from 5-7p.m. at the Riverside County Administration Center. 3) The San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools will hold their annual holiday open house on Tuesday, December 12, 2023, from 2-4:00 p.m. at the Dorothy Ingraham Learning Center in San Bernardino. Rsvp to (909) 386-2406. 4) Within the next two weeks Jim Bueermann will be scheduled to provide training for usage of the General Mobile Radio System (GMRS) as discussed at the October 3rd meeting.

Kevin Dyerly, Chair presiding.

Motion by K. Scott/Second/Passed: Minutes from October 17 & October 24, 2023.

O’Reilly Public Relations (OPR) has requested a change in Inland Action representation: Patrick O’Reilly would serve as the primary representative and Maddy Bogh would serve as the alternate representative.
Motion by L. King/Second/Passed: OPR’s request for change in representatives.

Doug Kleam introduced Congressman Pete Aguilar representing the 33rd Congressional District and serves as Chair of the House Democratic Caucus who joined us in person.

The Congressman thanked Inland Action members, many of whom are friends, for attending and making Inland Action a priority to learn and help better the region.

The 22-day hiatus in the House of Representatives while a Speaker was selected has been frustrating for everyone. Both the Republican Conference and Democratic Caucus have the responsibility of nominating and electing the party leadership in the House of Representatives. It is good to have this process accomplished allowing the House to move back to business. Congressman Aguilar feels that the work he did across the aisle during the process to select a new Speaker was a good learning experience and he has established trust with many more of his colleagues.

There is an obligation and a responsibility to help the Israelis and the Ukrainians in their fight to protect their countries and their freedoms. In the matter of aid to Israel and Ukraine, the Congressman hopes for a bi-partisan effort to achieve this.

Many of the funding priorities that Inland Action, SBCTA and others want for the region are embedded in funding bills which are impacted by temporary and continuing resolutions.  Congressman Aguilar has been working with Congressman Ken Calvert on the Federal Courthouse. This is made challenging as the GSA is not anxious to elevate a second-tier priority projects They are working to amend language that will move the courthouse up in priority.

The Congressman is fully aware that our region continues to be in the shadows of L.A. and San Francisco for funding largely due to funding formulas that work in their favor. Funding across the board for transportation, healthcare, housing and education are all affected by outdated formulas that need to be reexamined with current data. Updating formulas will take time but the Community Projects funding that was established four years ago is addressing some immediate needs. There are $7B each for the Senate and the House to appropriate for Community Project funding.  When the Democrats were in the majority, they treated all funding requests equally and vetted them based solely on the Community Funding rules without regard to party affiliation. This has now changed. The Congressman feels strongly that the party labels need to come off these funding requests to treat all fairly and while debate is on-going there will not likely be a resolution this fiscal year.

Another Government shut-down deadline is approaching. As the holidays are a busy time it is very possible another shutdown could occur but hopefully for a short time.

In the spring of 2024 when Inland Action travels to D.C. they will have likely passed full funding bills and next year will all be about presidential politics. That said, advocacy should focus on higher level policy issues and big flagship legislation.

Some Inland Empire non-profit grant applications for federal funding are not up to snuff. Thought needs to be given as to how to be more competitive. Not every non-profit with a great idea has the capacity to implement the funding the would receive, which is an issue that must be thought through in the future.


Q & A period followed
Meeting adjourned 8:30 a.m.