$1.9 Trillion Coronavirus Aid Passed in House, Moves to Senate

The House of Representatives on Friday approved President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package. In the bill is additional financial support for individuals and businesses, including expanded and extended federal unemployment benefits, $25 billion for relief for restaurants and bars, $30 billion for transit costs, along with $7.25 billion in new money for the Paycheck Protection Program, according to NPR.

Next, the bill will go to the Senate floor, although changes are likely, according to the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA), who expects the final bill to be passed by mid-March. Current federal unemployment benefits expire on March 14.

“We expect the final package to extend the Employee Retention Tax Credit …, the CARES Act’s unemployment programs and other relief items that will benefit ASTA members,” ASTA said in a statement.

Separately, U.S. Travel Association EVP for public affairs and policy Tori Emerson Barnes said, “The relief package includes several provisions that will help accelerate the travel industry’s recovery from the devastating impacts of the virus. Among them: Resources for vaccine distribution, airport funding, and Economic Development Administration grants.”

She added: “Given the severity of the impact on the travel and tourism industry, more work remains to provide critical recovery and stimulus measures to safely restore our industry. While we appreciate that there is more money included for the PPP, that program needs to be extended past March 31 and a third draw on loans should be allowed for the hardest hit businesses. We also call on Congress to pass the Hospitality and Commerce Job Recovery Act, and to dedicate additional funding for travel promotion grants."

This article originally appeared on www.travelagentcentral.com.

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