WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) today introduced legislation that would freeze the daily allowances permitted for federal employees on government travel at their higher, pre-pandemic amounts for the next two years to help hotels that serve government travel receive a fair rate for the services they provide.
“Federal travelers are a significant part of the hotel industry’s customer base, and federal travel allowances should reflect a fair price for both travelers and hotels,” said Sen. Moran. “Often times the federal per diem rate influences private sector rates. Freezing these allowances so they are based off of lodging prices before the pandemic will provide much needed certainty to help the hotel industry’s recovery while also providing a fair price for their services.”
“The travel industry was among the hardest-hit by the pandemic, and we must help this critical part of our economy and workforce recover from economic hardship,” said Sen. Kaine. “I’m proud to introduce this legislation, which will help ensure that federal employees receive a fair rate when they travel and that hotels receive fair compensation for their services.”
“Government travel supports tens of thousands of hotel jobs and billions in travel spending across the country and is critical to the hotel industry’s recovery, which is still suffering the negative economic impacts of COVID-19,” said Chip Rogers, American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) President and CEO. “As a result of pandemic-related shutdowns, capacity restrictions and safety precautions, calculating per diem rates using 2020 data would lead to an artificially low rate that would only exacerbate the economic crisis facing hoteliers. This commonsense bill would ensure a fair rate calculation by directing the General Services Administration to base per diem rates on data from 2018 and 2019, prior to the pandemic's devastating impact on travel. We commend Sens. Moran and Kaine for introducing this critical legislation and urge Congress to move swiftly to pass it into law.”
The General Services Administration (GSA) establishes the per diem rates, which are the maximum allowances federal employees can be reimbursed for expenses incurred during official travel. GSA per diem rates are updated annually and are calculated on a 12-month basis beginning in April of the prior calendar year and running through March.
Due to stay-at-home orders, mandatory shutdowns and social distancing measures, the rates collected in the past year will produce significantly depressed per diem rates. In light of the impact of COVID-19, GSA adjusted the FY2021 data window for rate setting by one month (April 2019 through February 2020 in lieu of the standard April 2019 through March 2020).
Sens. Moran and Kaine’s legislation, the Restored, Equitable, Coronavirus Adjusted Lodging (RECAL) Act, would freeze federal per diem rates at the 2019, pre-pandemic level to avoid a depressed per diem rate, which would have a significant impact on the hotel and travel industry.
This legislation is supported by the American Hotel and Lodging Association and the Asian American Hotel Owners Association.
Click here to view a one-page summary of the bill.
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