Congressmembers Higgins, Huizenga & Castor Lead Push to Lift Pandemic Related Travel Restrictions
Congressmembers Brian Higgins (NY-26), Bill Huizenga (MI-2) and Kathy Castor (FL-14) are leading a bipartisan push encouraging the Biden Administration to take steps to safely reopen international travel to the United States.
In a letter to President Biden, signed by 75 members of the House of Representatives, Congressional leaders lay out action items including reopening the land border between the U.S. and Canada. “Both governments should follow the science and drop all travel restrictions for travelers between the United States and Canada who are fully vaccinated travelers or provide proof of a negative PCR test,” the Members write. Reps. Higgins & Huizenga serve as the Co-Chairs of the Canada-U.S. Interparliamentary Group.
The letter also calls for reestablishing travel between the U.S. and the United Kingdom pointing to the significant progress made by both countries in vaccinating citizens. Working groups have been established to hammer out details related to the lifting of travel restrictions between the U.S. and Canada as well as between the U.S. and U.K., however no announcements have been made relative to guidelines or a timeline for implementation.
In addition, Members want the Administration to increase processing capacity for tourism and business visas, noting, “As of April 8, 2021, just 57 of 237 visa processing sites were fully operational and 76% of consulates are either fully or partially closed to routine visa processing.”
The leaders point out the economic consequences of slow or no action, writing, “Prior to the pandemic, international inbound travel to the U.S. contributed $234 billion in export income to the U.S. economy, generated a trade surplus of $51 billion, and directly supported 1.2 million American jobs. However, the steep decline in travel in 2020 resulted in the loss of $150 billion in export income. If nothing is done to lift entry restrictions, the U.S. is projected to lose 1.1 million jobs and an additional $175 billion by the end of this year.”
Travel restrictions were implemented by the United States in early 2020 in response to health concerns related to the global pandemic. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates it is now safe for fully vaccinated individuals to safely resume many activities, including travel.