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Travel Promotion Act is taking the scenic route to passage

WASHINGTON — Supporters of the Travel Promotion Act are optimistic the measure, which is designed to help increase international visitors to the United States, will overcome procedural roadblocks in the U.S. Senate.

The act, which passed the House last year, appeared on its way to easy passage this spring when the Senate Commerce Committee unanimously approved it, and the Senate voted 90-3 to bring it to the floor for debate.

However, in June, when Democratic and Republican senators could not agree on unrelated amendments that were attached to the bill, a vote was delayed indefinitely.

“It has hit a stumbling block due to procedural issues that have little or nothing to do with the substance of the act,” said Geoff Freeman, senior vice president of public affairs for the U.S. Travel Association, a major backer of the bill.

“We are optimistic it will get done before the end of the year. We are keeping our nose to the grindstone and not letting up one ounce. We have to keep fighting, and it will be more rewarding when it does get done, and it will get done.”

Freeman pointed out that 49 senators, nearly half the upper chamber, have signed on as co-sponsors of the act. “The support is there, and the need is absolutely there. We just have to navigate these arcane processes,” he said.

Freeman noted a motion to reconsider the bill can be made at any time, and he is optimistic it will be passed by the end of the year. “It is one bill they can all agree on,” he said.

The Travel Promotion Act would create a public-private corporation that would actively promote the United States as an international travel destination and would communicate U.S. security and entry policies.

Private sector contributions and fees on travelers from countries that do not pay a visa charge to enter the United States would fund the act.

The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the Travel Promotion Act would reduce the U.S. federal budget deficit by $425 million over the next 10 years.

The U.S. Travel Association projects that the act will generate $4 billion in new stimulus each year and create 40,000 new U.S. jobs in its first year.

“It offers one of the greatest economic stimulus Congress could endorse,” said Freeman.

“This bill will reduce the deficit and increase jobs,” Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, said in a release. “This is the type of stimulus Americans are looking for.

“It is not unusual for legislation to temporarily stall in the U.S. Senate due to procedural hurdles as members seek compromises. We strongly encourage senators to find common ground and pass the Travel Promotion Act as quickly as possible.”