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Published on : Friday, November 22, 2013
In advance of the approaching sequestration and debt ceiling deadlines in early 2014, the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) and hoteliers from across the country sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) urging them to act quickly on two bills that would put safeguards in place in the event of future shutdowns.
The two pieces of legislation are the Public Access to Public Lands Guarantee Act (S. 1750) authored by Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ), and the Protecting States, Opening National Parks Act (H.R. 3286) introduced by Congressman Steve Daines (R-MT). Each would prevent a reoccurrence of the delay by the National Park Service in authorizing states to reopen and operate national parks using non-federal funds, for which they would be reimbursed if Congress retroactively appropriates operating funds or collected entrance fees during the shutdown. The Park Service delay was a major contributing factor to the lodging industry’s loss of $115.2 million in economic activity during the shutdown, along hundreds of millions of dollars more in lost economic activity in communities that rely heavily on tourism.
“The lodging industry is clear in its position: no more government shutdowns. And with the vote to end the previous shutdown in October, policymakers gave themselves extra time to engage in a serious dialogue and find a meaningful and long-lasting solution to the fiscal issues still facing this country and prevent future occurrences,” said Katherine Lugar, AH&LA president/CEO. “Until that solution is reached, however, the lodging industry continues to urge Congress to put safeguards in place to ensure we can continue as one of the main anchors of our national economy. Senator Flake and Congressman Daines have introduced two bills to give states and municipalities the flexibility to open and operate public lands at no financial loss to themselves. Congressional passage is important to provide an ‘insurance policy’ against the harsh economic consequences seen in the previous shutdown.”
The letter notes, “Uncertainty arising from the partisan gridlock in Washington continues to prevent any guarantee of avoiding future government shutdowns. This uncertainty will only further impair the ability of lodging and many other industries to continue driving economic growth and job creation … We urge the House of Representatives and the Senate to act quickly on this legislation to ensure the stability of the local economies throughout the country that rely on our national parks.”
Signatories to the letter include state lodging associations, independent hoteliers, leading brands, and owners from across the country.