Government Relations

January 8, 2019

GROUND BREAKING: The 116th Congress will be the most diverse in U.S. history: 126 women will take office, including 43 women of color. At least 25 new members are under the age of 40, mostly Democrats, including two women under 30. Over 130 Democrats have never served in the House majority before, and over 140 Republicans have never served in the House minority before.

2019 EXPECTATIONS: We know based on public and private statements that investigations and a watchdog type mentality will be a component of the 116th agenda. This Congress is starting on a note not really seen before: a government shutdown; an investigation of the President; progressive vs. center-left politics; 2020 presidential candidate positioning and the fate of the U.S. economy. Coupled with an influx of new members, it feels as if it is going to take a while to sort itself out, and much of that sorting will be heavily influenced by external events like Robert Mueller’s investigation.

COMPELLING ARGUMENT: Given these reasons, it is vital we have a strong showing in the Nation’s Capitol at the Legislative Summit in 2019. Save the Date: May 14-16. We are starting on a Tuesday this year, so you can all enjoy a stress free Mother’s Day weekend.

WHO’LL STOP THE RAIN: The shutdown continues, and to date, no real breakthroughs have been reached. But both sides are still discussing ways forward. A question for you: Are your travelers impacted or potentially impacted? Contact me and tell me your story.

STATE DEPARTMENT SERVICES: People will still be able to obtain passports and visas, although the State Department could curtail issuing them if the services are offered in buildings run by an agency that is shut down.

AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL AND TSA: Air traffic controllers, who fall under the jurisdiction of the Federal Aviation Administration (which is under the Transportation Department umbrella), are deemed “essential” and will keep working during a partial shutdown. Similarly, Transportation Security Administration agents are also considered “essential” so air travel is not expected to see disruptions on this front. However, notices are being sent to prepare for slower than usual security lines.

BORDER PATROL: Border security is at the heart of the shutdown fight and much of the staffing for it is on track to remain intact even in the face of a partial shutdown involving DHS funding. U.S. Customs and Border Protection is classified as an “essential” service, so a majority of its employees are exempt from furloughs during the shutdown — though they could encounter lags in pay.

CAPITOL HILL HALLS ON 1/3: As I mentioned in the opening, the first day of a new Congress is always exciting but it is also nerve-racking. You think you know how the next two years will go, but you are never really sure. And that isn’t just me, it is everyone including the members themselves. On the outside there is no doubt, but on the inside maybe this is going through your head.

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December 10, 2018

 

Shane Downey crossed the Atlantic to attend the GBTA Europe Conference in Berlin. It was a great show with fantastic education opportunities and networking. Plus, we met with our Europe partner organizations to discuss the latest legislative issues they are facing, such as visa digitalization, CRS Code of Conduct review and Single European Sky. Here is a recap of the conference. I highly recommend attending next year’s event in Munich.

TURKEY OR HAM?: We continue the season of giving from Thanksgiving to Christmas, and as you know, earlier this fall, Congress passed a massive FAA Reauthorization bill that included many of GBTA’s priorities. I have created a link for you and your colleagues to thank (or NOT) your Senators and Representative for their vote. After you have messaged with them, you can tell your friends on Facebook and Twitter how they can take action.

Thank your Members of Congress

TAKE NOTE: This new communication capability will be a part of the 2019 Government Relations Challenge, which will be officially launched at the Leadership Summit, January 28-29.

THE MATRIX: Cyber threats are increasing at an astonishing rate. To combat this, TSA chief David Pekoske unveiled details from the agency's first cybersecurity plan at this week’s AAAE aviation security summit. The plan expands on DHS' broader cybersecurity strategy to focus specifically on transportation security and the development of cyber tools within TSA, Pekoske told reporters at the event. Identifying cybersecurity risks, reducing vulnerabilities and mitigating the impact of cyberattacks are among the priorities listed in the plan.

MINORITY REPORT: As we have discussed in previous emails, CBP is quickly expanding its biometric exit program, which includes facial recognition. CBP announced at a meeting that it is working with more than a dozen airports and airlines, and has commitment letters from 18 airports and airlines to purchase the needed equipment. NBC’s Tom Costello and Hoda Kotb seem to be fans. I just hope TSA’s Cybersecurity Plan is a good one. 

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November 9, 2018

 

2018 Election Results from a GBTA Perspective

  • GBTA saw 9 of its supported candidates win and 3 lose - 2 are still undecided due to recounts
  • Two races are in the midst of recounts (Florida and Arizona)
  • One member of Congress retired after the PAC contribution was made

All 2016 and 2018 GBTA Champions of Business Travel Won Reelection

  • Senator Amy Klobuchar              D-MN    2016     
  • Representative Gus Bilirakis        R-FL     2016
  • Representative Steve Cohen       D-TN     2016
  • Representative Sam Graves        R-MO    2016
  • Representative John Katko          R-NY     2016
  • Representative Kathleen Rice      D-NY     2016
  • Representative Mike Quigley       D-IL      2016
  • Rep. John Katko                         R-NY     2018     
  • Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman      D-NJ     2018     
  • Rep. Sam Graves                       R-MO     2018     

 
Candidates Supported by the Business Travel PAC in 2016-18 Election Cycle (this is where your PAC donations went)
 


OVER THE RIVER: As noted in GBTA’s Tuesday blog post “What will the election mean for business travel” no matter who won the House or Senate, there would be change at the top of committees that impact business travel, which also means a change in governing philosophies. 

According to a Politico report, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the likely next chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said in a statement to Morning Transportation that one of his top priorities would be overhauling TSA in three areas: security operations, personnel management and transparency. "Congress must demand sustained accountability to ensure that TSA officials finally implement unfulfilled security recommendations that sometimes languish for years," he said. "We also must ensure that TSA officials are protecting whistleblowers, and we need to increase transparency over settlements with employees who report security vulnerabilities." Cummings has worked with Republicans over the past three years on an investigation of TSA employee misconduct and retaliations against whistleblowers, and "it is now time to convert our oversight findings into concrete reforms," he said.

AND THROUGH THE WOODS: Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO) officially launched his bid to lead Republicans on the House Transportation Committee this week. His announcement letter to the Republican Conference contained his vision for leading the minority party through the upcoming transportation issues. "I am uniquely qualified to serve as Ranking Member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee," wrote Graves. "I'm an accomplished legislator with a strong conservative record, plus a professional pilot and user of the system.”

TO GRANDMOTHER’S HOUSE: Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) will be the chair of the Transportation Committee and wasted no time in setting out his agenda in a call with reporters.

DeFazio said he’d like to direct $500 billion to surface modes and given the 2020 deadline, he intends to start work on a new surface transportation bill in January, along with a separate infrastructure package. Of interest to GBTA was his other priority of implementing a “modest increase” in the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC), stating his belief that the primary aviation chokepoint to focus on is “on the ground” as a result of too few available gates. He also said he would ask airlines to provide documentation of how their own ancillary fee hikes impacted passenger reservations.

WE GO: Our good friends at Cornerstone have written a thorough review of the elections. You can read through it here.

GOVERNMENT RELATIONS CHALLENGE: Because you are all outstanding volunteers, you are already working on the Challenge. We are planning to officially roll this out in early January. We are making some tweaks, but nothing too major. I ask that you call me and run any PAC fundraising plans by me first. We hope to have the dates set for the Legislative Summit soon – think nice spring, mid-May weather.

 

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October 12, 2018

 

You may have missed it, but know your efforts and support of GBTA PAC has led to some big wins for GBTA.  Thank you for your support NYCBTA members it is always greatly appreciated.  Here are some highlights of what we were able to accomplish this year

Congress introduced a bi-partisan compromise to re-authorize the Federal Aviation Administration. In the over 1,200 pages, there are several items that GBTA and YOU pushed for, including a 5-year authorization, which is the longest since 1982.

To get here, Congress followed the “ping-pong strategy” we had discussed, by taking a bill that had passed the Senate, and inserting the compromise language. The House of Representatives passed the bill Wednesday evening by the vote of 398-23. Roll Call Vote. As of today, we expect the Senate to vote on the bill next week and send it to the President for his signature. Read GBTA’s press release on the introduction of the legislation. Below are some of the bill’s highlights. Pay attention to the latest information on REAL ID listed further down.

PASSENGER FACILITY CHARGES: The bill does not increase passenger facility charges. It calls for the formation of a group of experts, including a shout out to include the business travel industry, to investigate the need for infrastructure, resources and the impact of increasing the fee.

SILENCE IS GOLDEN: The bill prohibits voice calls on planes.

PRECHECK IS PRECHECK: The bill states only those enrolled in trusted traveler programs can use the PreCheck lanes.

INCREASED PRECHECK ENROLLMENT: The bill calls for TSA to enter into agreements with two companies to market the program and to enter into a long-term agreement to increase enrollment.

FASTER ACT: I guess it would be the “fast” as it ends the practice of diverting the 9/11 Security Fees to the deficit reduction starting in 2027 instead of immediately.

RENTAL CAR TAX: The bill prohibits discriminatory taxation on rental cars at airports.

CONSUMER PROTECTIONS: The bill includes a number of consumer protections, including requirements to set new minimum requirements for seats on airplanes; to refund passengers for services they paid for but did not receive; and for regulators to determine if it is unfair or deceptive for airlines to tell passengers that a flight is delayed or canceled due to weather alone when other factors are involved.

REAL ID: As you will note from the last Politics of Travel, the next deadline for state extensions is October 10, 2018. You will remember I stated DHS is not concerned about this deadline as all of the states currently not in compliance are making progress. However, there is a deadline in October 2020 that will absolutely impact your travelers. Join the GBTA’s Government Relations Committee sponsored webinar (LINK TO REGISTER) on OCTOBER 4, 2018, to get the latest information from DHS on REAL ID. This is information you need to be telling your travelers!

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Weekly Updates

REAL ID: Status of compliance concerns have been raised for travelers in the states marked Yellow on this map of the United States. According to the site, October 2018 is the cutoff for state extensions. The concern is travelers from those states would be unable to use their driver’s license as ID when boarding a plane. DON’T BE CONCERNED, GBTA has received the following update from Department of Homeland Security. “Driver’s license enforcement will not begin until October 1, 2020 barring any unforeseen events.  The 2018 extension deadline is mostly a procedural issue with the states at this point - given the fact that we have instituted quarterly reviews.” 
 
ON THE CLOCK: The outlook for Congress to pass a long term Federal Aviation Administration authorization is not good. Congress has until September 30th to pass a final bill that is signed by the President. The Senate to date is still working through a myriad of issues. There is still a push to pass a final bill before the current extension expires, but it’s looking increasingly like the Senate will have to pass another short-term extension, possibly through the election. After that, all bets are off on what the final legislation will look like. GBTA supports the current bill because it keeps the cap on Passenger Facility Charges at $18 per round-trip ticket. It also prohibits voice calls on planes.  

GLOBAL SECURITY PROGRESS: Department of Homeland Security recently announced a new aviation security working group with four allied countries as part of its ongoing efforts to monitor evolving threats. The U.S., Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom agreed to establish the "Aviation Security 5" working group and a statement of intent to "expand information sharing on known and suspected terrorists so that all five countries can better detect and disrupt terrorist travel," according to the summary.
GBTA has called for increased information sharing in meetings with U.S. and European legislators for several years. It is our belief that improved information sharing will focus attention to travel threats and allow legitimate business travel to thrive.
 
CONVENTION REDUX: In case you missed it, the Customs Border Protection Commissioner and the Transportation Administrator sat down with GBTA’s Mike McCormick in San Diego. You can also watch the recordings on GBTA On Demand.
 
Center Stage: The Challenges of Security in Today’s Volatile World
 
CBP Commissioner McAleenan
 
TSA Administrator Pekoske 
 
Additionally, GBTA’s government relations consultants, Cornerstone Government Affairs and Grayling Public Affairs, spoke in San Diego. I highly recommend watching the videos.
 
U.S. Advocacy highlights from Cornerstone Government Affairs
 
International Advocacy highlights from Grayling Public Affairs 

Be Heard - - Your Voice Matters

Dear Members,

Welcome to the Government Relations webpage. Soon, you will be receiving email blasts on GBTA's Government reports. On the left side bar on this page we have direct links to GBTA's Government website page bringing you all the latest on what GBTA is doing for our industry.  Please check back often for updates.

GBTAPAC works for us all every day. They are fighting to get legislation passed that effects our industry, such as lower travel taxes, creating a better infrastructure, and defending passenger rights.  This impacts us all no matter what type of member you are and they are our voice in Washington.

I will continue to inform you on any pressing issues that need immediate attention. By mobilizing together our voices are heard in Washington, DC. I have seen this first hand by attending the GBTA Legislative Summit meeting. I experienced the power of a political action committee and what they can accomplish. I urge you to participate in our grass roots effort that will affect you and our businesses.

I encourage you to make a contribution to GBTAPAC. The donation form is located on the left side of this page. You can fax or mail in the form for any amount you can contribute. They must come from a personal not a business or corporate account. Please remember to note you are a member of the NYCBTA Chapter. If you have any questions, please contact me.

Many thanks,

Frank Gallo

Director of Government & Public Relations

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