By Ashley Mackin
U.S. Congress-member and La Jollan Scott Peters (D-52) discussed the “personal side” of Congress during a presentation to the Torrey Pines Kiwanis Club Feb. 19 at Torrey Pines Christian Church.
Among other things, Peters talked about a project he joined as an individual — without an act of Congress — and how private issues and party lines can get in the way of resolutions.
Peters, who served on the San Diego City Council (2000-2008) for District 1 before being elected to Congress in 2012, said he joined the collaborative Military Transition Support Project (MTSP), which launched Feb. 18. MTSP is designed to help recently discharged veterans transition back into civilian life, including finding a job.
“Service-members are learning all these important technical skills on the battlefield, on the ship or on the base, and they are not getting certificates required by the private sector (to gain employment),” Peters said. “We want to make sure the military is giving that certification to that returning vet, so they don’t have to take a course and pay $500 to prove that they can do something we know they know how to do.”
Through MTSP, Peters will work with private sector stakeholders and military leaders to help match veterans with certain skills to employers that need those skills.
He said that all this was assembled and implemented without an act of Congress.
A Congressional act Peters did support, is the law he introduced that would grant employers a $2,500 tax credit if they hire and keep veterans on their payroll. “San Diego has the third largest population of veterans in the country … 15,000 veterans that leave the service (every year) stay in San Diego.”
Peters said he is focused on taking the ideas coming from San Diego and bringing them to Washington D.C. to share with the rest of the country. “This (MTSP) will be one of those things, you watch and see,” he said.
Party linesThough Peters reports things have gotten better, he said there is still room for improvement when it comes to communication across party lines.
“There are 20 Republicans elected in 2010 who boast that they’ve never spoken to a Democrat in their entire term. That has to end,” he said.
“I think the five members of Congress that represent this area — Darrell Issa (R-49), Duncan Hunter (R-50), Juan Vargas (D-51), Susan Davis (D-53) and me — have to work together,” he said, comparing current representation to previous delegations that included Brian Bilbray and Bob Filner.
“Those two could not be in the same room together. Now we, (on the other hand), have figured out a way to talk to each other.”Case in point, the $226 million reserved for infrastructure improvements at the border, because, Peters reported, the three Democratic Congress-members built a relationship with the Republican two, one of whom put in a call to House Republicans to convince them to include border infrastructure in their budget.
“There is still a lot we are not doing, you would think I was a joke if I said this is going great. It’s not,” he said. “But it’s going better, and it’s going a lot better in San Diego.”
On Kevin FaulconerWhen one Kiwanis member asked Peters what he thought of mayor-elect Kevin Faulconer, with whom he served on the city council (2006- 2008), Peters said, “Kevin is a good guy. … When I was Council President, I appointed him Audit Committee Chair and he did a great job.”
Peters said during that time issues were discussed more thoroughly before the council voted on them, so they could be worked out to most of the council’s liking.
“We didn’t have a lot of 5-4 votes. We tried to work stuff out. It’s too partisan now. My hope for Kevin is that he will go back to that and worry less about his party and more about his city. I think he can do that because he remembers how (the council) used to be.”