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House passes CARES Act; AH&LA, AAHOA respond

Update: Hours after the legislation passed the House, President Donald Trump signed the CARES Act into law.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the roughly $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, & Economic Security Act Friday, sending it on to President Donald Trump to sign. The American Hotel & Lodging Association and AAHOA both praised the vote but pointed out issues with the legislation’s loan program.

“The hotel industry applauds Congress and the administration for their tireless work in response to this unprecedented public health crisis,” AH&LA President/CEO Chip Rogers said in a statement. “We appreciate Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi and Minority Leader [Kevin] McCarthy for their leadership. By passing the CARES Act, Congress has taken a critical first step to provide immediate support for American workers and the industries that drive our economy.

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“We continue to support the underlying foundation of the CARES Act, which seeks to help millions of workers and thousands of small businesses, and we are grateful it has moved forward so quickly.

“As we have previously noted, we are disappointed that Congress was unable to increase the limits on Small Business Administration loans so that they would be more workable for our industry during this unprecedented halt in travel. Under the current limits, hoteliers will only be able to meet their payroll and debt service obligations for an estimated four to eight weeks. While we all look forward to the day when it is safe to resume traveling, the reality is that most hotels today are facing single-digit occupancy, and that is unlikely to change in such a short time period. With no revenue coming in, hoteliers can’t make their debt payments, which will result in the business going under and employees losing their jobs permanently.

“As Congress weighs additional stimulus programs in the coming weeks, we urge them to swiftly address this shortcoming in the CARES Act. We will continue to work in a bipartisan manner on a fourth wave of COVID-related legislation and future economic stimulus packages to help affected workers and industries. COVID-19 has been devastating for our industry, but we stand ready to do whatever we can to make it through this crisis.”

President/CEO Cecil Staton issued a statement for AAHOA: “This important economic stimulus provides immediate liquidity to small businesses and provides us with the opportunity to have further discussions with our leaders in Washington about how we can ensure businesses come out on the other side of this crisis. That said, the formula for determining maximum loans still does not provide enough liquidity for hotel owners. We will continue to work with our industry partners and leaders in Washington to strengthen the loan and grant program in subsequent legislation to allow hotel owners to continue meeting their payroll, operational, and mortgage obligations during this pandemic. It is heartening to see our government coming together to address the broader economic crisis sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic. We applaud the administration and Congress for their efforts and look forward to President Trump signing this bill.”

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