USTA presses for new COVID-19 relief bill

Negotiations continue in Congress on the latest federal aid

Tori Emerson Barnes, executive vice president for public affairs and policy for the U.S. Travel Association, said in a statement that the COVID-19 relief framework under discussion in Congress can position the economy for full recovery.

THE U.S. TRAVEL Association is joining other industry groups in pressing Congress to reach an agreement on a proposed COVID-19 relief bill. However, negotiations remain ongoing with little progress, according to media reports.

It is encouraging that the proposed bipartisan bill contains several provisions USTA has been pushing for for months, said Tori Emerson Barnes, USTA’s executive vice president for public affairs and policy.

“In particular, the second draw on [Paycheck Protection Program] funds and the expansion of eligibility to non-profit organizations that promote travel and tourism will be especially beneficial to America’s hardest-hit industry,” Emerson Barnes said. “This relief proposal package is wisely responsive to specific needs outlined by industries that are struggling to keep their doors open and retain employees. It’s been a long and hard road to see a deal, and while more will ultimately be necessary, this framework can position the U.S. economy for a stronger recovery if it survives the next stages.”

Some progress had been made on the bill on Thursday when House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said the House would adjourn until at least Tuesday, according to However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell indicated that Republicans would not likely support the bill.

Previously, USTA and the American Hotel and Lodging Association endorsed a plan presented by the Problem Solvers Caucus, a group of 25 Democrats and 25 Republicans, and a bipartisan group of Senators that would include $908 billion in total aid.

The proposal would include $300 billion for the PPP according to the caucus’ most recent breakdown, a key objective of USTA, AHLA and AAHOA. It also includes $160 billion for state and local governments, $180 billion for unemployment benefits and $16 billion for vaccine development and distribution and COVID-19 testing.

“We need Congress to prioritize the industries and employees most affected by the crisis. Every hour Congress doesn’t act hotels lose 400 jobs, and we hope this proposal helps to break the partisan stalemate in Washington,” said Chip Rogers, AHLA’s president and CEO.