Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Villaraigosa, LA city councilmen in Washington for conferences

L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was in Washington, DC Tuesday to meet with lawmakers about sequestration and transportation issues.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is a man on the move, spending Tuesday in Washington, D.C. and Wednesday in New York.

The mayor is in Washington for the Access DC trip hosted by the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. More than 250 local business leaders are on their annual lobbying trip, telling Congress how sequestration will affect L.A.

The Access LA group told Congress that sequestration means fewer low income housing vouchers and delays getting through customs at LAX.

But the Mayor has also been meeting with Congressional leaders to talk about the federal loan program he promoted called "America Fast Forward." Congress put a billion dollars a year in loans in the two-year transporation bill.

The mayor says there's likely to be more demand than money. Now, he’s lobbying for the other half of the program: federal bonds. He says members "aren't dismissing out of hand" the proposal for bonds the way they did three years ago when he first proposed the loans. "That’s a good thing," the mayor said. He hasn’t gotten any yesses, yet. But he describes Congressional leaders as “open.”

Villaraigosa also met with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. It was just last month the Mayor put to rest speculation that he might succeed LaHood. The mayor says he wants to "finish this job and we’ll see what happens after that." Villaraigosa leaves office at the end of June. He says he doesn’t know what he'll do next, though he’s leaning toward a think tank or university.

Villaraigosa also met with Federal Aviation Administrator Michael Huerta. In the afternoon, he met with Republican Rep. Bill Shuster, who serves on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. He’ll finish out the day with a reception hosted by Cerrell and Associates.

The mayor travels to New York on Wednesday for a meeting of the UN Safe Cities Commission to talk about LA’s anti-gang programs.

Members of the Los Angeles City Council are also in D.C. this week for the National League of Cities Conference. Councilmen Joe Buscaino, Mitch Englander, Ed Reyes, Jose Huizar and Tom LaBonge are attending.

The L.A. City Council will be back in session next week.

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