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US Travel Association Week in Washington

Posted By Administration, Monday, January 8, 2018
JANUARY 2-5, 2018
Week in Washington

NEW VOICE

The U.S. Travel team was further strengthened in November by the hiring of Victoria “Tori” Barnes as Senior Vice president of Government Relations. She will now begin sending this report. A seasoned Washington professional, Tori will craft our policy priorities and strategy – and work with the U.S. Travel team to execute a strong agenda which will be reported here every Friday. You may see some graphic changes and hear a slightly different voice. As always, we welcome your feedback on how we can keep these reports useful for you and encourage your engagement and questions.

TRAVEL JOBS

Enactment of the tax reform bill was a major legislative achievement by Congress and the Administration that will put refund dollars in the pockets of travelers, generate investment within the industry and help create American jobs. Domestic business travel has already been showing some bounce because of an optimistic commercial environment and the tax package seeks to jolt the private sector even more. Today, the travel industry supports one in nine U.S. jobs. We only stand to grow with a tax code that significantly enhances our competitiveness worldwide.

GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN

With only eight legislative days left before the next deadline on Jan. 19, congressional leaders are still struggling to avert a shutdown of the federal government. Since the current fiscal year started in Oct. 1, the Congress has enacted three short-term extensions. Based on past experience, U.S. Travel urges action to avoid the expense and disruption of any interruption in government operations.

PASSENGER FACILITY CHARGE

In anticipation of eventual consideration of an omnibus 2018 funding package, our lobbying continues to lift the cap on the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC). The Senate transportation funding bill would raise the per-leg ceiling from $4.50 to $8.50 – but not the House bill. The fee, assessed by local airports for specific modernization and security projects, was last raised in 2000.

OFFSHORE DRILLING

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke yesterday proposed opening nearly all the outer continental shelf for oil and gas drilling, specifically identifying areas off Maine, California, Florida and Alaska for potential exploration. The plan is much larger than anticipated last year in a presidential executive order, which directed Sec. Zinke to weigh expanded drilling in the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. Under the most recent five-year offshore lease sale plan, issued by the Obama Administration, drilling was precluded around Alaska or in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. The plan drew immediate opposition from environmental groups and bipartisan officials in several coastal states. A formal proposal will soon be released for a 60-day public comment period. U.S. Travel officials are preparing to meet soon with senior Interior Department officials and we’ll keep you posted.

INFRASTRUCTURE RETIREMENT

This week, a key legislator in the infrastructure debate announced plans to retire from Congress after this session. Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA), chairman of the key House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, is also a strong advocate for transferring control of the air traffic control system to a non-profit corporation. The announcement comes as the Administration is preparing to roll out its revised plan to rebuild the nation’s roads, bridges and airports. Rep. Shuster is the fourth Republican Committee chairman planning to step down when the current term expires. It is important to note that with Shuster’s announced retirement, it does give him some flexibility to be creative and untraditional as he works to craft an infrastructure package. We will be working closely with his committee to ensure that travel and tourism interests benefit from the package.

TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS

A panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has added a new obstacle to implementation of the President’s executive order on visas. The most recent White House order bans citizens of eight nations from entering the U.S. The court prohibited enforcement of the ban against anyone with a “bona fide” relationship with American citizens. The next step is a ruling on another challenge by a federal appeals court in Richmond, VA. Then the Supreme Court is expected review these cases.

TRAVEL TALKS

Plans are now underway for an aggressive 2018 schedule ofTravel Talks, informal roundtables for legislators at home with local travel leaders. We’re now finalizing at least two sessions later this month in Texas and Michigan. Please let us know if you’d like to host aTravel Talkwith your representatives.

IN THE OUTBOX

From last week’s press clips are stories on:

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