US Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow issued the following statement after both the House and Senate passed an omnibus bill to fund the government through September 2017:
“The travel industry thanks congressional appropriations leaders for their bipartisan cooperation on this budget deal, and all lawmakers who voted to avert the threat of a government shutdown. We are particularly pleased that the deal funds important security and travel facilitation programs.
“Keeping travelers moving to and within the US is vital to our nation’s economic health. Unnecessarily cutting or disrupting the operations of agencies like the FAA, CBP and TSA would place considerable strain on travelers, stymie national security efforts and cost our country billions in lost travel revenue.
“This spending bill provides significant funding to address a number of our industry’s most pressing policy priorities. It creates a $75 million emergency fund to address emerging global health threats like Ebola and Zika.
It will accelerate the hiring of front-line CBP inspectors, in order keep wait times at our ports of entry manageable, and directs new funds to the Visa Security Program, which will aid in the efficient processing of visa applications. It devotes new resources to help identify the small fraction of travelers who overstay their visas, invests $1 billion in air traffic control updates, and allots funding for continued TSA modernization, including $23 million to expand canine detection programs at domestic airports.
“Notably, we are grateful that this deal rejects a proposed TSA fee increase on travelers, in light of the continued diversion of passenger TSA fees away from security purposes.
“It is imperative that our government pays adequate attention to ensuring a secure, welcoming travel experience for all legitimate visitors to our country. We thank lawmakers for passing this spending bill, and urge them to continue investing in travel infrastructure, facilitation programs and security.”
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