Last updated: 10:33 AM ET, Thu March 12 2015

GBTA Commends Congress' Efforts to Fully Fund DHS

Impacting Travel | Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) | Patrick Clarke | March 04, 2015

GBTA Commends Congress' Efforts to Fully Fund DHS

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Travelers can finally breathe a sigh of relief. 

Despite a bitter divide in Congress over President Obama's executive actions on immigration, the House of Representatives passed a bill on Tuesday that will ensure funding for the Department of Homeland Security through the remainder of the fiscal year.

According to Sean Sullivan of the Washington Post, the Democrats' triumph in the House came via a 257-167 vote. The bill first cleared the Senate late last week.

In the wake of Tuesday's announcement, Global Business Travel Association executive director and COO Michael W. McCormick released a statement expressing the organization's relief and imploring Congress to avoid another near shutdown:

"The Global Business Travel Association is relieved Congress took action to fully fund the Department of Homeland Security through the end of this fiscal year, ensuring that road warriors can continue to travel without disruption. We are, however, disappointed that the path to a full-year funding bill was fraught with uncertainty."

McCormick went on to say that the "vote recognizes the critical need to ensure that the security infrastructure at our nation's airports, ports and border crossings remain fully staffed and 'open for business.'"

As TravelPulse's Rich Thomaselli explained last week, a partial DHS shutdown would have likely resulted in roughly 30,000 administrative workers being furloughed and even more being asked to fill those voids without pay. The immediate impact of such a scenario would seemingly be longer waits at airport security checkpoints, however the long-term effects could be far more threatening to travelers' safety. 

"On behalf of the approximately 225,000 men and women of the Department of Homeland Security, we thank those in Congress—Democrats and Republicans—who voted for this bill and, in particular, those in Congress who showed the leadership necessary to get the job done," said DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a statement. 

In addition to prioritizing safety, funding the DHS could also have a significant impact on the economy, according to McCormick, who specified that "business travel will account for $310.2 billion in spending in 2015." 

"For every one percent decrease in business travel spending, the U.S. economy could lose an additional 71,000 jobs, nearly $5 billion in GDP, $3 billion in wages and $1.2 billion in tax collections."

McCormick concluded with a message for government officials on behalf of the business travel community:

"Congress must stop moving from crisis-to-crisis, and instead provide the travel community and travel programs the certainty that they need. Narrowly averting a crisis such as a DHS shutdown sends the wrong signal to businesses," said McCormick. "Going forward, Congress should continue working together to make sure that DHS, which supports the movement of people, goods and services throughout our transportation system, remains fully funded."


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