Americans are facing two major challenges in light of the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic: the public health emergency and the subsequent financial fallout from required social distancing and staying home.
This outbreak has affected all sectors of our nation’s economy, but it has disproportionately affected restaurants, hotels, and the hospitality industry.
Congress took several steps through the CARES Act to address the inescapable damage felt by millions of workers and small business owners within the tourism industry. The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program outlined in CARES will provide aid for those who typically would not be eligible for support, like those who are self-employed, independent contractors, and sole proprietors. We were also able to secure $10 billion in airport grants to support vital operations and another $6.5 billion in Community Development and Economic Development Administrations grants for economic injuries caused by COVID-19, which will include the tourism industry. Additionally, the money Congress allocated to help airlines included language to protect and uplift travel advisors across the country.
But Congress knows our work is not done. I’ve been advocating for automatic stabilizers to be included in the next coronavirus package, which would automatically activate more funding for vital financial relief programs based off economic or timing triggers. By building automatic triggers for financial aid programs into future legislation, deployment of direct assistance like the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) would quickly get to Americans without delays due to political disputes in Washington. I also recently signed onto a letter to congressional leadership asking that destination marketing organizations (DMOs), such as the San Diego Tourism Authority, be deemed eligible for federal support.
Finally, it goes without saying that all of this investment in our employers and support for workers comes with an enormous price tag. But it’s necessary to keep businesses from going under and to keep families healthy. We want to sustain our employers and employees so they will be ready to get back to work and prosper once again when the time is right to re-open the economy. When we get through this difficult time, I will continue to fight for fiscal responsibility and debt reduction because the federal government must be prudent in the good times so we have greater ability to spend in times of crisis like this one. We may not know when we’ll emerge from this crisis, or what the new normal will look like when we do; we should all be prepared for some adjustments. But Americans are resilient and San Diegans are innovators. Working together, we will can emerge stronger and better than ever.