Internet Travel Monitor - Industry News
July 19, 2017
DHS Appropriations Bill Favors Tourism Industry
In his efforts to slash and burn the federal budget with the goal of creating a balanced budget, President Donald Trump offered a number of budgetary recommendations earlier this year that have not played well with the tourism industry.
Among them, a proposal to cut eliminate the budget of Brand USA, the agency responsible for marketing the United States as a travel destination. the president has also recommended shifting some tax burden back to passengers by raising TSA fees.
But a bill released by the House Appropriations committee last Tuesday, the 2018 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations bill has sided against both these Trump-favored initiatives.
Specifically, the bill emphasizes that it does not include a "redirection" of Brand USA Travel Promotion fees.
In his weekly "Friday Check-in" email, U.S. Travel President and CEO Roger Dow called the bill a positive step.
"While clearing this hurdle is a positive step, much more work remains as the budget makes its way through Congress," wrote Dow. "I urge you to contact your legislators today and help us protect this valuable program."
The bill also includes an allocation of $7.2 billion for the TSA. While this reflects a decrease of $159.8 million from 2017 levels, the bill again specifies that does not include an increase of TSA passenger fees. The $7.2 billion includes full funding for Transportation Security Officers, privatized screening operations, and passenger and baggage screening equipment. It also includes $151.8 million to acquire and train more than a thousand canine teams.
The bill also delineates funding for other security programs, such as aviation security, border and immigration enforcement, customs activities, cyber terrorism protections, and yes, a border separating the United States from Mexico. In fact, the bill included the full $1.6 billion asked for by the president for a "physical barrier construction along the U.S. southern border."
"The Committee takes its role in safeguarding our homeland and protecting our citizens seriously," said Rodney Frelinghuysen, Appropriations Committee Chairman. "Globalization, cyber-security, and terrorism are changing our way of life and we need to change with it. This bill fully supports our men and women on the frontline lines who work tirelessly to keep us safe. The bill also provides the necessary funding for critical technology and physical barriers to secure our borders. It is a balanced approach that enhances our capabilities and preparedness."
Other highlights include $13.3 billion for Customs and Border Protection (CBP), an increase of $1.6 over last year. The increase is largely dedicated towards the border wall but also includes $100 million to hire 500 new border patrol agents, $131 million for new border technology, $106 million for new aircraft and sensors and $109 million for new, non-intrusive inspection equipment.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is also getting a raise. The $7 billion allocation, $619.7 million more than 217, includes $185.6 million to hire 1,000 additional law enforcement officers and 606 support staff and an increase of $30 million for efforts in combatting human trafficking, child exploitation, cyber crime, visa screening and drug smuggling.
The U.S. Coast Guard will receive $10.5 billion, a $31.7 million raise over 2017 levels. The increase is earmarked for military pay increases, vehicle modernization and resources to improve readiness.
The National Protection and Programs Directorate will receive $1.8 billion to increase cyber security efforts against cyber-attacks and hacking. These funds also include the modernization of the Biometric Identification System.
The Secret Service will receive $2 billion, a modest decrease of $101 million. The funds include efforts to bulk up cyber security as well as money towards the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Another $7.3 billion is being allocated for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) programs.
Although the bill does not generally include funding for Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) programs, it does allocate $131 million for E-Verify, in order to help businesses hire employees who are legally allowed to work in the United States.
The bill is expected to be voted on by the House Budget Committee in the coming week.
Copyright 2017 travAlliancemedia™. All rights reserved. From http://www.travelpulse.com. By Monica Poling.
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