Government Relations

Be Heard - - Your Voice Matters

Hello fellow chapter members,

Welcome to the Government Relations webpage. In support of GBTA’s statements on mandating testing for domestic flights, please read the below letters from GBTA. One is a statement about GBTA’s stance on mandating testing on domestic flights, which GBTGA opposes and the other two are letters from the Coalition on air testing analysis and a letter expressing our industry concerns.

For more information please go the GBTA website and check the government relations page. We will update our site as we receive more information and will strive to keep you all updated. 

GBTA Statement on Testing Mandate for Domestic Flights

Travel Coalition Letter to J. Zients

Coalition Domestic Air Testing Analysis and Implications

Kelly Ferrigno
Vice President
Government Relations Chair

Please see GBTA's statement on the Capitol Violence of January 6th. This can be viewed here.

Click here to learn more about what's happening now

March 23, 2021

Hello fellow NYCBTA members,

We hope all is well with each of you and are looking forward to getting back to in person meetings.  In the meantime here are some updates from GBTA on what is happening on the Hill and how GBTA is assisting.

ARP: ARP: As we discussed in the last Politics of Travel, Congress passed, and the President signed the $1.9 Trillion American Recovery Plan. The plan invests billions of dollars to increase the availability of COVID-19 vaccines, expand testing capacity, and bolster the public health system’s ability to respond to the virus. Our friends at Cornerstone Government Affairs produced an excellent break down of the bill. 628 pages reduced to two.

EU DIGITAL GREEN CERTIFICATE: Please see this note from our friends at Grayling Public Affairs. The European Commission attempts once again to draw an exit plan from the COVID-19 restrictions, this time going beyond mere recommendations and proposing a legislative initiative.

The Digital Green Certificate is an EU level approach to issuing, verifying and accepting certificates to facilitate free movement within the EU, based on a strict respect for non-discrimination and of the fundamental rights of EU citizens. The goal is for it to be put in place by mid-June, to ensure security, interoperability, as well as full compliance with personal data protection.

GBTA was pleased with the announcement and believes it is a positive step for restoring travel for those vaccinated or not. We understand the Biden Administration is considering the U.S. travel industry’s push on this subject.

BI-PARTISAN TRAVEL: Members of the Senate and House, Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) along with U.S. House of Representatives Steven Horsford (D-NV), Darin LaHood (R-Ill), and Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.-20) unveiled the Hospitality and Commerce Job Recovery Act of 2021, this legislation, supported by the travel industry would provide comprehensive relief and recovery measures for the convention, trade show, entertainment, travel and hospitality industries and their workers.

The bill seek to create new recovery incentives for hospitality and trade shows, extend the employee retention tax credit to reduce layoffs and keep Americans employed, create a perishable food and beverage credit to help small businesses cover costs of inventory lost during COVID closures, and provide a tax credit for middle class families to jumpstart travel when safe. Bill Text

WHO ARE YOU?? Have you registered for GBTA’s Suzanne Neufang’s regional listening tour? Our goal is to be transparent and open. Join this call, learn about Suzanne and let us know what you think. We can’t grow without you!

EAST COAST REGIONAL hosted by Christina Reichelt

January 22, 2021

PREPARE FOR CHAOS: KICKING IT OFF: President Biden signed a slew of Executive Orders on the first two days of his presidency. Of note for the travel industry is his support for increased testing capabilities and vaccine distribution. A win for the airlines and the flight attendants is the requirement of facial coverings in airports and on certain modes of transportation, including many trains, planes, maritime vessels and intercity buses.

INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL: Included in Thursday's COVID-19 National Strategy Executive Order “Promote safe international travel. The United States will implement policies requiring international air travelers to produce a negative COVID-19 test prior to departing for the United States; and to comply with CDC guidelines for self-isolation and self-quarantine upon arrival. The Administration will consult with foreign governments and international organizations regarding the same. The Administration will work with foreign governments and other stakeholders to establish guidelines for and to implement public health measures for safe international travel, including at land and sea borders.” Current CDC Guidelines

IT’S BACK: After a year’s reprieve, REAL ID enforcement is coming! The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has begun a new nationwide public awareness campaign, “Be Your REAL ID Self” to promote awareness of the REAL ID requirements and encourage the public to act before the October 1, 2021 full enforcement deadline.

Just over 8 months remain until the October 1, 2021 REAL ID full enforcement deadline. You will need a REAL ID-compliant card or acceptable alternative, such as a U.S. passport or passport card at federally regulated airports, federal facilities, and nuclear power plants.

BREXIT: A Christmas Eve deal on BREXIT left businesses scrambling. A recent GBTA EU Town Hall took place and discussed the impact BREXIT will have on EU and UK travelers. Click here to access the recording of the meeting.

February 21, 2020

PREPARE FOR CHAOS: October 1 2020, Real ID kicks in and travelers without a REAL ID driver’s license will be denied boarding an airplane.  Alternative form of identification, such as a U.S. passport, passport card, Global Entry card, U.S. military ID as well as Enhanced Driver’s License (EDLs) issued by the states of Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Vermont, and Washington will be accepted. #Check4thestar
The GBTA Government Relations Committee has produced documents to help you prepare your travelers, colleagues, family and friends. As a travel professional, NO ONE wants to have their grandma call them up and tell them they couldn’t get on a plane.

The 2020 Government Relations Challenge is on! We are instituting some changes, the first being no more size division. Each Chapter is asked to raise $7.50 per member. This puts everyone on the same playing field. We are also increasing the number of people sending emails to 40% of the membership. The rules and a how to PPT will be emailed separately to the Chapter Liaisons.
GBTA ASKED, CONGRESS IS LISTENING: Representatives Reps. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ) and Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) are introducing legislation that would allow travelers to use TSA PreCheck as an alternative to a REAL ID. The bill from would also require TSA to develop a contingency plan to address people who try to travel without a REAL ID after Oct. 1.
Take Action: GBTA is supportive of this bill and has set up an action center email for you to send and request support for this approach. In addition to clicking on the link, you can use your phone and text 52886 with the key word “disruption” to take action.
Please note, your emails will count towards your Government Relations Challenge email task.

CORONAVIRUS: I have included several items that you may find helpful:

    • The House Appropriations Committee Labor-HHS subcommittee will host a panel with CDC, NIH, and other officials to brief Committee members on COVID-19. A date has not yet been announced.

LEGISLATIVE SUMMIT UPDATE: In late January we announced the dates of the 2020 Legislative Summit. Once the email was sent, I realized I had missed an event and we had to shut down registration. I know Stop me if you have heard this before but we are close to finalizing a date. Be on the lookout in the near future. 
EASY TO SUBSCRIBE: Have coworkers or colleagues who would find this newsletter helpful?  Please forward this email on and they can subscribe to GBTA emails, please be sure to select "The Politics of Travel - GBTA Government Relations" subscription to begin receiving this newsletter. Thanks for your support!
April 18, 2019

So, the last couple of weeks have been interesting since we last talked the politics of travel. As you have seen in the news, shakeups at Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Customs Border Protection (CBP) and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) are occurring. GBTA is following along closely and communicating with different staff to see how business travel may be affected. Just a reminder, GBTA had the former CBP head, now newly-appointed Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan and former TSA head, new DHS deputy secretary David Pekoske on stage at GBTA Convention 2018 discussing technology and the impact it was going to play in global business travel

We are also zeroing in on the Legislative Summit. It’s a little more than a month away! Have you registered? 

 GBTA has closely been following developments with REAL ID over the past few years. REAL ID is a federal law passed as part of the 9/11 Commission in 2015 and requires states to issue standardized ID cards and driver’s licenses that include new technology. The intent of the law is to prevent forged documents and inhibit terrorism.

As we approach a key date in this process, TSA has created a webpage with more information, frequently asked questions, and a toolkit for travelers, industry, state and local governments. See an official press release from TSA on this matter.

You will be denied from boarding an airplane as of October 1, 2020 if you try to use a non-compliant driver’s license.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced at a press briefing that Democrats are ready to "get to work, advancing an historic, at least $1 trillion plan" on infrastructure. She made passing reference to the Green New Deal by saying, "I think we should have a green ideal. Take the best of what we all have to offer to build the infrastructure in a green way to preserve our planet, that creates jobs."

And overnight a we had a hopeful sign that a bi-partisan deal is still possible. A meeting between President Trump, Speaker Pelosi and Senator Schumer (D-NY) on infrastructure was announced. It is still uncertain what the funding mechanisms will be with some pushing for a gas tax increase, a sales tax increase or even a Vehicle Mileage Traveled (VMT) tax but meetings are always a good start. GBTA is supportive of the need for an infrastructure plan that meets the needs of the business traveler but is balanced in ‘pay-fors”.

Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Gary Peters (D-MI) introduced legislation to address the shortage of Customs Border Protection agents. The bill (S. 1004) would require CBP to hire an additional 600 Customs agents every year until ports of entry are fully staffed.

The CBP workforce model calls for over 27,000 individuals. CBP currently has 23,465 officers on board, a shortage of 4,000.

The need for additional staff is heightened with the potential of shifting resources to the southern border. The bill’s sponsors state that if these reassignments continue, they could lead to staffing shortages at other critical land ports of entry, medium & small airports and seaports on the Southern and Northern borders. GBTA is supportive of hiring additional CBP officers to ensure business travel remains un-impeded.

No, not a new exercise, it’s the latest on BREXIT. On April 10, European Union (EU) leaders agreed to extend the Brexit cut-off date to October 31, 2019. EU leaders reiterated that the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated by Prime Minister May and the EU cannot be renegotiated and that the extension period cannot be used to negotiate the future EU-UK trading relationship (including an aviation agreement). It remains to be seen if the United Kingdom’s Parliament will pass the Withdrawal Agreement before the October 31 deadline. Caution – if the UK decides not to participate in the EU May elections, the UK will then have to leave the EU on 1 June 2019 in a Hard Brexit scenario.

This edition of Politics of Travel makes me think of bad breakups. Here are my guesses for the parties in order: Rearview MirrorFLEXIT and Thank you next.


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.


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. 

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.


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!


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