U.S. Travel Association president and CEO Roger Dow has praised President-elect Joe Biden's proposed $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan, which Biden unveiled in a speech late Thursday. The proposal, called the American Rescue Plan, includes direct payments for most Americans, extended unemployment benefits and aid for small businesses. Dow noted that unemployment in the travel industry remains high and
financial aid from the American Rescue Plan will help ensure that
businesses survive the coming months.
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View commentary on the American Rescue Plan from David DuBois, president and CEO of the International Association of Exhibitions and Events, here
The new plan builds on the $900 billion stimulus deal passed by Congress in December. It would extend federal unemployment benefits through September and increase payments to $400 per week. The American Rescue Plan would also provide $1,400 stimulus checks for eligible Americans, to complement the $600 payments from the previous bill. In addition, Biden called for flexible grants to help the hardest-hit small businesses survive the pandemic, and proposed raising the minimum wage to $15.
Vaccinations are another top priority of the American Rescue Plan. Biden has vowed to have 100 million vaccines distributed within his first 100 days of office. To meet this goal, the President-elect proposed allocating $160 billion for a national vaccine program, including $20 billion for distribution and $50 billion for expanded testing.
"It's not hard to see that we are in the middle of a once-in-several generations economic crisis, with a once-in-several generations public health crisis. A crisis of deep human suffering is in plain sight," said Biden. "We have to act, and we have to act now."
Dow noted that vaccinations in particular will play a crucial role in the recovery of the travel and meetings industry.
"Accelerating the distribution of vaccines is the key to getting travel back to normal, and we applaud President-elect Biden's emphasis on a robust federal leadership role to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible," said Dow. "Further, we are encouraged by the measures to provide additional grants and loans to small businesses in the hardest-hit industries, which include travel. The Paycheck Protection Program is set to expire in March, but the economic hardships of the pandemic will persist, so it is important that struggling businesses continue to receive aid to maintain operations and keep workers on payrolls."