Brand USA: The Current State of Play

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Summer recess is winding down and Congress will soon return to Washington—and a busy legislative calendar. U.S. Travel looks forward to seeing Brand USA’s reauthorization near the top of the agenda.

Great strides were made in the months leading up to recess, and we are well-positioned to secure Brand USA’s long-term reauthorization. The following is a recap of Brand USA’s progress toward renewal and a summary of the next steps our congressional champions and industry partners will take toward achieving that goal.  

Legislative Action

Brand USA cleared a major legislative hurdle just before the recess period began when the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation overwhelmingly passed the “Brand USA Extension Act” (S. 2203).

“Brand USA has been a proven success in increasing tourism and economic growth in communities across the nation,” said Sen. Roy Blunt in a statement. “I’m encouraged by the widespread, bipartisan support this bill received in committee, and I urge all of my colleagues to support it when it comes before the full Senate.”

Bipartisan Congressional Support

A U.S. House of Representatives “Dear Colleague” letter in support of Brand USA closed on July 31 with more than 100 signatures. The letter, addressed to House leadership, was led by Reps. Peter Welch (D-VT), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Dina Titus (D-NV) and Greg Walden (R-OR). This letter followed a Senate “Dear Colleague” letter that closed in May with nearly 50 signatures.

The Visit U.S. Coalition also led a number of successful bipartisan activities this summer. The Visit U.S. Coalition hosted a “lunch and learn” in conjunction with the Travel and Tourism Caucus on June 12. The purpose of the event was to educate Hill staffers on the value of Brand USA. Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) and Travel and Tourism Caucus Co-chair Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) spoke, as well as several other travel industry leaders, including U.S. Travel’s National Chair and Destination DC President and CEO Elliott Ferguson, Mike Fullerton of Brand USA, Erin Neill of Marriott, Matt Haller of the International Franchise Association and Meghan Smith of the National Restaurant Association.

U.S. Travel President and CEO Roger Dow and other Visit U.S. Coalition CEOs from the American Hotel & Lodging Association, International Franchise Association, Asian American Hotel Owners Association and American Gaming Association had several successful meetings on Capitol Hill on July 24 to talk about the importance of getting Brand USA reauthorized this year. Meetings were held with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA), Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) and others. 

Industry Support

Earlier this year, more than 600 travel industry organizations signed a letter in support of Brand USA to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (CA) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA). Since then, dozens of op-eds have appeared in publications around the country calling for congressional action to reauthorize Brand USA.

Notable bylines include:

  • MGM Resorts Chairman and CEO Jim Murren for CNN
  • VisitLEX President Mary Quinn Ramer for the Kentucky Forward
  • Visit Tampa Bay President and CEO Santiago Corrada for the Tampa Bay Times
  • Visit Wichita President and CEO Susie Santo for the Wichita Eagle
  • San Diego Tourism Authority President and CEO Joe Terzi for the Times of San Diego
  • Ohio Restaurant Association President and CEO John Barker for the Columbus Dispatch
  • Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association President and CEO Jason Brandt for the Hood River News

Please click here to download a sample op-ed that can be modified to fit your destination or state’s needs.

Next Steps

U.S. Travel, our industry partners and congressional champions are working to add the “Dear Colleague” signers on to the House (H.R. 3851) and Senate (S. 2203) bills as cosponsors. Please click here to view U.S. Travel’s Brand USA renewal toolkit, which includes resources to encourage your member of Congress to cosponsor the Brand USA bills. ​

U.S. Travel and its partners are also encouraging the House Committee on Energy and Commerce to take up the House bill as soon as possible.

We thank our partners in Congress and across the industry for their continued efforts to garner support for this important program and secure its ultimate reauthorization this year—now is the time to get this done.