Washington, D.C. – In a Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee hearing today, U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) met with Dr. Cecilia Rouse, President Biden’s nominee for Chair of the Council of Economic Advisors, and Congresswoman Marcia Fudge, the nominee for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Senator Cortez Masto talked to Dr. Rouse about issues “surrounding the hospitality industry and tourism industry, because Nevada has been so hard hit. Our resort operators support our whole community. But as you and I discussed, when people are unwilling to travel during a pandemic, it has a devastating impact on our economy—both on the businesses and the workers that directly and indirectly support it. And let me just throw out some numbers here, because I think this is important for us to understand.
“Before the pandemic, the travel and tourism industry was one of the largest sectors of the economy. In 2019, travel generated $1.1 trillion in spending and supported 15.8 million American jobs. But we know because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has devastated this industry. And according to Oxford Economics, the U.S. lost $510 billion in travel spending and 4.5 million travel jobs in 2020. So my question to you is do you think that the industry—the hospitality, the travel, leisure industry—is one area where Congress and the administration should focus when crafting a stimulus bill?”
Dr. Rouse replied, “I share your concern about the travel and leisure industries. We know from the most recent job reports that that is an area where we’re seeing our most significant job losses and have been hardest hit by this pandemic. And as I have said before, getting through this pandemic as safely as possible, where we’re helping individuals, helping the businesses that are viable get to the other side, so that they can participate in the growth, is very important. And I believe we should be targeting our assistance at those hardest-hit areas. I believe the president shares that priority.” Dr. Rouse pointed out that President Biden’s proposed stimulus plan, the American Rescue Plan, contains additional aid for businesses, but that she would continue to discuss with Senator Cortez Masto “the most effective ways to ensure that we get the assistance to those business and those sectors that are the most heavily impacted by the pandemic.”
Senator Cortez Masto pointed to her bipartisan Hospitality and Commerce Job Recovery Act, which she noted includes provisions resulting from “working with our industry locally and nationally about what can be done. That includes tax credits to be effective tools to incentivize spending and help certain sectors recover from an economic crisis.”
In her conversation with Congresswoman Fudge, Senator Cortez Masto observed that her bipartisan Manufactured Housing Modernization Act, which was passed a year ago and issues guidance for the inclusion of manufactured housing in states’ and local governments’ consolidated housing plans, has still not been implemented by HUD. The Senator expressed her interest in working with Congresswoman Fudge on the implementation of that law.
Senator Cortez Masto then turned to the issue of youth homelessness: “Nevada is third in the nation for the total number of unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness—and the highest rate of unsheltered, unaccompanied homeless youth. And I know that this is an area that is important for you as well. What ideas do you have to work with other agencies to reduce youth homelessness and what can HUD be doing as well?”
Congresswoman Fudge responded, “Certainly if I’m confirmed, one of the things that we need to address right away is youth who are aging out of the foster system. As soon as they age out, they have no place to go. So HUD has to start to put in place programs to allow them to stay in public housing, at least until we can get them on their feet.” She expressed her willingness to work with the Senator on that issue if confirmed.
A full video of the hearing can be found here.
Along with Senator Cramer (R-N.D.), Senator Cortez Masto introduced the Hospitality and Commerce Job Recovery Act of 2020. The bill would stimulate the economy by creating new recovery incentives for hospitality and trade shows, enhance the employee retention tax credit to help maintain worker connections to their employer, and provide recovery incentives for middle class families to jumpstart travel when safe. She has also urged the Department of Housing and Urban Development to implement the HUD Manufactured Housing Modernization Act.