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COVID-19 related tourism industry losses in 2020 exceeded $ 750 billion

New research suggests that the top 50 countries supporting the global tourism industry have lost an estimated $ 753.6 billion due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Overall, the numbers are likely to be “much higher.”

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According to hotel room deals platform Hoo, international tourism revenue fell to $ 548.9 billion in 2020, a 57.9 percent drop from $ 1.302.5 billion the previous year. In total, the data shows that the industry lost $ 753.6 billion in tourism revenue last year.

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Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats.

In the United States, the combination of widespread COVID-19 cases and political unrest resulted in the largest decline in international tourism revenue, going from $ 125 billion in 2019 to just $ 89.1 billion in 2020.

“We are now beginning to get a sense of the extent of the pandemic’s impact on global tourism over the past year and it is quite staggering, to say the least,” said Hoo co-founder Adrian Murdock. “It is fair to say that the industry has been decimated due to COVID-19, with widespread travel restrictions causing drastic drops in tourism revenue almost across the board.”

“Unfortunately as we are, it looks like things will get worse before they get better, with 2021 still not seeing a return to normal and with even tighter restrictions, if at all,” continued Murdock. “There is no question that once these restrictions are lifted, there will be an almost insatiable appetite for travel and this will bring an immediate boost to the industry. The question is, how long will companies have to wait to see those better days? “

To collect the data, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) provided information for the top 50 tourist destinations, including pre-coronavirus levels, the estimated decline as a result of the pandemic, and financial data for the industry.

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How the pandemic left the $ 25 billion Hudson Yards strangely deserted

When Hudson Yards opened in 2019 as the largest private development in American history, it aspired to transform Manhattan’s Far West Side with a sleek line of ultra-luxurious condominiums, from office towers to powerful corporations. like Facebook and a mall with international brands and restaurants coveted by celebrities. chefs like José Andrés.

The whole surrounded a copper sculpture which would be to New York what the Eiffel Tower is to Paris.

But the pandemic has ravaged New York’s real estate market and its first $ 25 billion development, raising important questions about the future of Hudson Yards.

Hundreds of condominiums remain unsold and the mall is devoid of customers. Its main tenant, Neiman Marcus, filed for bankruptcy and closed permanently, and at least four other stores, as well as several restaurants, have also gone bankrupt.

The centerpiece of the development, the 150-foot-tall scalable structure known as the Vessel, closed to visitors in January after a third suicide in less than a year. Office buildings, whose employees maintained many stores and restaurants, have been largely empty since last spring.

Even more perilous, the promised second phase of Hudson Yards – eight additional buildings, including a school, more luxury condos, and offices – appears on indefinite hold as the developer, the related companies, seek federal funding for a platform. -form of nearly 10 acres on which it will be built.

Related, which had said the entire project would be completed in 2024, no longer offers an estimated completion date.

The woes of the project are in many ways a microcosm of the larger challenges the city faces as it tries to recover.

Related said he relies on wealthy buyers filling his apartments and deep-pocketed clients packing the mall to make Hudson Yards financially viable.

But that was before the coronavirus arrived in New York City.

With the pandemic forcing white-collar workers to stay at home – and pushing foreign shoppers and tourists away – it’s unclear when, or if, demand will rekindle for the vast supply of high-end areas and prime office space. order that invade the city skyline.

“The challenges facing Hudson Yards are not unique,” ​​said Danny Ismail, analyst and office coverage manager for real estate research firm Green Street Advisors. “All of the commercial real estate in New York has been affected by Covid-19. However, I would say that after the pandemic, Hudson Yards and the surrounding area will be one of the best office markets in New York City.

The creation of Hudson Yards capped nearly 30 years of planning for the last large undeveloped plot in Manhattan, industrial land between Pennsylvania Station and the Hudson River.

It is New York City’s largest public-private enterprise and the city’s largest development since Rockefeller Center in the 1930s, helped by around $ 6 billion in tax breaks and other government assistance, including metro expansion to the West Side. Even with the expansion of the subway, Hudson Yards is still relatively isolated from the rest of Manhattan, off the beaten track of busiest avenues for tourists, shoppers, and workers.

Related admitted he was facing the same financial woes as the rest of the city, but said tenants were still moving into the project’s office buildings and Hudson Yards would eventually bounce back.

Four office buildings in Hudson Yards – including 50 Hudson Yards, which are under construction – are 93% leased, a spokesperson for Related said, although it is not known how many this happened in the year. last. Facebook signed a lease at the end of 2019 for approximately 1.5 million square feet.

“Our strong rental of office space, even during the pandemic, is why we are well positioned to lead New York’s return of Covid and why adjacent neighborhoods and the entire West Side will recover faster,” the door said. -speak, Jon Weinstein.

Yet the issues facing Hudson Yards have prompted Related to rethink his plans.

Led by billionaire founder Stephen M. Ross, the company set out to build Hudson Yards in two phases. The first phase, opened in 2019, includes four office towers, two residential buildings, a hotel and the shopping center.

The second part was supposed to include 3,000 residences spread across eight buildings closer to the Hudson River, as well as a 750-seat public school and hundreds of low-cost rental units. At least 265 apartments are supposed to be “permanently affordable”, according to a 2009 agreement between the town hall and the partners.

In total, Hudson Yards was to span 28 acres on existing rail yards and cover 18 million square feet of space, roughly double the size of downtown Phoenix.

The developer has considered an array of new options, including even a casino, although that idea is no longer the focus, according to Weinstein.

Associate cannot build the second half until he builds a terrace above the station. The company, along with Amtrak, has had discussions with the Federal Department of Transportation over a low-interest loan to fund the platform and preserve the right-of-way of a new Hudson rail tunnel that Amtrak plans to build.

Related has asked for more than $ 2 billion, according to two officials briefed on the proposal who have not been allowed to discuss it publicly.

“Residential is going to have to bounce back, or they’ll change it and look at a different product mix out there,” said Robert Alexander, president of the tristate region for CBRE real estate brokerage, which is a marketing space at Hudson Yards. “For me, this is a major development site and there are very, very, very few major development sites in New York City.”

Related is also facing pressure from its investors to provide more comprehensive accounting of project finances. A group of 35 Chinese investors – a slice of the roughly 2,400 who contributed $ 1.2 billion to Hudson Yards – sued the company last year, accusing it of refusing to open its books or saying when it could. repay their investments.

An arbitrator in the case recently denied the investors’ claims and ruled that Related was not required to disclose detailed financial information.

Lawyers for the company said Hudson Yards was facing “significant headwinds in the wake of Covid-19” and that due to the economic downturn and lockdown restrictions, it may not be able to recover its investment in at least one property there, 35 Hudson Yards, a mixed-use tower with a hotel, according to documents filed in the case obtained by The New York Times.

Another group of Chinese investors, whose contributions of $ 500,000 per person were part of a U.S. visa program that may grant them a path to citizenship, are also reportedly considering filing a similar lawsuit against Related, according to a person close to. the situation. who was not authorized to speak publicly.

Related made it clear before the outbreak that she intended to make most of her money in Hudson Yards from her condos and shopping center since Mr Ross said he was renting office space for the price. costly, without making a profit.

The pandemic has laid bare the difficult roads. In 2020, 30 residential units sold to Hudson Yards, against 157 the previous year, according to an analysis for The Times by the consulting firm Miller Samuel.

So far this year, several condos are under contract at Hudson Yards, according to Related, a possible sign the market could stabilize.

Still, Manhattan has a record number of condos for sale right now, especially luxury units like Hudson Yards, and it could take years for sales to really bounce back, according to Nancy Wu, an economist at StreetEasy.

“Hudson Yards was built for a buyer who is no longer there and maybe in part for a tenant who is no longer there, and he was someone who wanted to live in Manhattan but not live in the city in self, ”said Richard Florida, professor at the Rotman School of Management and School of Cities at the University of Toronto, referring to the homogeneity of the development and its somewhat isolated location.

The retail situation is also grim. The vast space occupied by the bankrupt Neiman Marcus store will no longer be occupied by another retailer. Instead, Related will convert it to multiple desktops.

In the meantime, the company intervened in Neiman Marcus’ bankruptcy case, claiming the department store owed $ 16 million for breaking its lease and an additional $ 129,000 for removing its signage throughout the mall, including a giant sign hung in a five storey building. glass atrium.

While the mall was closed with foreclosure orders from mid-March to early September, buyers are still largely absent.

Related has battled its other struggling retail tenants, even threatening stores with a fine of $ 1,500 per day for not staying open after the mall reopens.

Several stores, including Forty Five Ten, a luxury clothing store in Dallas that opened alongside Neiman Marcus, have closed permanently. The mall opened with 79 stores and now has 89, Related said.

He said the mall had added at least 11 stores since September, including Herman Miller, Levi’s and Sunglass Hut.

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, tourists and office workers were scarce and some stores were still closed, while others like Rolex were only open by appointment. Mall workers outnumbered shoppers by far inside the cavernous building, where the busiest spot seemed to be the line at Blue Bottle Coffee.

Weekday traffic at the Hudson Yards subway station, part of the No.7 Line extension that the city paid for to help make development possible, fell to an average of 6,500 passengers in December, a sharply down from the daily average of 20,000 in 2019, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates the metro.

The lack of buyers in the mall reduced Related’s income because the company structured some retail leases so that stores pay rent based on a percentage of their monthly sales. In addition, a number of leases were specifically tied to the fate of Neiman Marcus – if he closed, small stores would not have to pay rent or could break their leases without penalty.

Related would not comment on his terms with tenants, including whether some were withholding rent payments.

Mr. Weinstein, the company spokesperson, said retail “will always be a key part of our new neighborhood.”

Despite the uncertainty, Hudson Yards has already helped transform the neighborhood into a key business district and part of a stretch of Manhattan along the West Side that is emerging as a major technology corridor.

The development has attracted a number of companies including HBO, CNN, L’Oreal USA, BlackRock and Tapestry, the parent company of Coach, Kate Spade New York and Stuart Weitzman.

“I think New York City will be fine and the Hudson Yards will be fine,” Florida said. “Will Hudson Yards be the same as planned?” This is the open question. “

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Billion dollar lottery ticket sold in Michigan

The winning ticket to a billion-dollar jackpot, the third-largest lottery prize in U.S. history, was sold at a Michigan grocery store, state lottery officials said.

The winning numbers, which were drawn on Friday night, were chosen by a customer at a Kroger grocery store in Novi, a town of about 60,000 residents 30 miles northwest of Detroit.

State lottery officials said the identity of the winner will not be known until the person contacts them.

The winner can choose to collect the prize through an upfront payment and then annual payments for 29 years, or receive a one-time cash payment of approximately $ 739 million. In this case, the winner would earn around $ 530 million, after tax, state lottery officials said.

The odds of winning the jackpot were 1 in 302,575,350, according to Mega Millions. The winning Mega Millions lottery numbers were 4, 26, 42, 50, and 60, with a Mega Ball number of 24.

The numbers were chosen two days after the numbers were selected for a winning ticket in a $ 731 million Powerball jackpot, which was sold in Lonaconing, Md., An unlucky former mining town in the northwest corner. of State. The winning ticket was sold at Coney Market, a convenience store that sells subs and pizza in Lonaconing, a town of about 1,200 people in Allegany County, which has the most Covid-19 cases per capita in the state. About a quarter of Lonaconing’s population lives below the poverty line, according to census data.

A spokeswoman for Kroger praised Michigan winner and Novi Mayor Bob Gatt said the news came a month after the city was named “the second most innovative city in the country” by the magazine. Contractor.

He described Novi as a fast-growing city that had once been a rural outpost of Detroit, but was now an auto manufacturing hub that attracted tech companies like Google.

Mr. Gatt said he was “ecstatic” for the winner. “I’d be better off if I had the winning ticket,” he says.

The jackpot was the second biggest prize in Mega Millions history.

In 2018, a person who chose to remain anonymous won $ 1.537 billion in South Carolina. The prize remains the world’s largest lottery prize ever awarded on a single ticket, according to Mega Millions.

The biggest lottery prize ever in the United States was a $ 1.586 billion Powerball jackpot in 2016, according to the Associated Press. It was split between three ticket winners in California, Florida and Tennessee.

A lingering mythology has it that big jackpot winners become cursed after their lucky hits. There are many tales of winners who, not equipped to manage their newfound wealth, continue to struggle with drugs or alcohol, broken relationships and insolvency.

While an influential 1978 study found that lottery winners were no happier than their neighbors or more optimistic about the future, other studies have countered the notion of the so-called curse of the lottery.

Studies suggest that the general psychological well-being of winners rebounds over time.

In 2018, a New Hampshire woman filed a lawsuit to keep her name from being made public after winning $ 560 million in the Powerball lottery.

Lawyers for the woman, who called herself Jane Doe in the lawsuit, said she wanted to use some of her winnings for charity “away from the glare and misfortune that has often fallen on the other” winners. “Lottery.”

A judge allowed him to remain anonymous.

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Missing: a black hole with 10 billion solar masses

Two of the nodes, they concluded, were likely small galaxies with small internal motions cannibalized by the large galaxy. The measurements of the third node had error bars so large that it could not yet be ruled out as the location of the black hole.

The very compact fourth node near the lower edge of the nucleus was too weak even for the Hubble, reported Dr Burke-Spoloar. “Observing this node would have required an inordinate amount of time (hundreds of hours) of observation with the Hubble Space Telescope,” she said in an email, and so there is still a candidate for the black hole hiding place.

The core of the galaxy also emits radio waves, but these have not helped research, said Dr Burke-Spolaor.

“We were originally hoping that the radio show would be some sort of literal smoking gun, showing an active jet that points directly at the location of the black hole,” she said. But the radio relic was at least 50 million years old, depending on its spectral characteristics, which meant, she said, that the large black hole would have had ample time to move elsewhere since the jet went out.

Next stop was NASA’s orbiting Chandra X-ray Observatory. Kayhan Gultekin of the University of Michigan, another Nuker veteran who was not part of the original discovery team, pointed the telescope at the cluster’s nucleus and these suspicious nodes. No dice. The putative black hole would have to feed at a millionth of its potential rate if it were there, Dr Gultekin said.

“Either a black hole in the center is very faint or it isn’t there,” he wrote in an email. The same goes for the case of a binary black hole system, he says; you would have to eat very little gasoline to stay hidden.

In the meantime, Imran Nasim of the University of Surrey in the UK, who was not part of Dr Postman’s team, has published a detailed analysis of how the merger of two supermassive black holes could reform the galaxy in what astronomers have found. .

“Simply, the receding gravitational waves ‘pushes’ the supermassive black hole out of the galaxy,” Dr. Nasim explained in an email. Having lost its supermassive anchor, the star cloud around the binary black hole spreads out, becoming more diffuse. The star density in this region – the densest part of the entire giant galaxy – is only a tenth of the star density in our own Milky Way neighborhood, resulting in a night sky that would appear anemic. compared to ours.

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Smithsonian slashes $ 2 billion expansion plan

The Smithsonian’s mind-boggling $ 2 billion expansion plan was supposed to propel the institution into the 21st century.

Complete with an ambitious expansion of its 19th century red administrative building, the castle, which would have added restaurants, shops and restrooms, and new entrances overlooking the National Mall to the National Museum of African Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery’s concept designs for its south campus were unveiled with great fanfare in 2014. The first phase, which included repairs to the exterior of the Hirshhorn Museum, was already underway.

But on Wednesday, the organization said its master plan would no longer include any of these elements and had instead been revised to focus on restorations inside and outside the castle and on interior and underground improvements to the castle. arts and industries building, which has been largely closed since 2004 for renovations.

Ann Trowbridge, associate director of planning for the Smithsonian, said preserving the buildings had been the focus of the redesign from the start. “The key aspects of the master plan for the castle, the AIB and the Hirshhorn have always focused on the restoration and renovation of their historic fabric,” she said. “And that continues to be the priority.”

Designed by Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, the original plan would have significantly remodeled the 17 acres surrounding the castle into a gateway for visitors over the next 20 to 30 years, with construction set to begin this year. He would have moved the loading dock to enlarge the garden behind the castle and added a shock-absorbing dish under the building for seismic protection. (Carly Bond, a historic preservation specialist at the Smithsonian, said a proposed seismic-based insulation system would still provide earthquake protection.)

The scaled-down plan, which was first presented publicly on Wednesday afternoon to a virtual audience of community leaders, focuses on the renovation and restoration of two national historic monuments: the castle, designed by James Renwick Jr. and completed in 1855, and the Arts and Industries Building, designed by Adolf Cluss and Paul Schulze and constructed in 1881. It also includes a new central underground utility plant that will service several of the buildings, including the Castle and the arts and industries. The plan will be presented to the National Capital Planning Commission on Thursday.

Lonnie G. Bunch III, who became the Smithsonian Institution’s first African-American secretary when he took office in 2019, told the Washington Post on Monday that the changes to the master plan were “just the evolutionary process” that resulted. of his “arrival”. and ask some questions. He said he had delegated implementation to Kevin Gover, the acting undersecretary for museums and culture.

The Smithsonian spent $ 5.5 million in architectural and research fees for the master plan unveiled in 2014. Reacting to the proposal, some people lamented the loss of the peaceful Enid A. Haupt Garden, although the Smithsonian has later announced that it would be kept, while others worried that earthquake protection measures and the castle’s underground expansion would pose a risk to the building.

Linda St. Thomas, chief spokesperson for the Smithsonian, said in an interview Tuesday that the master plan, which was approved by the National Capital Planning Commission in 2018, was simply a vision for the next decades of the campus. “We know there will be changes to projects as they are approved and individually reviewed by the public,” she said.

But the Smithsonian’s finances were hit during the pandemic. The institute lost $ 49 million between March and September due to coronavirus-related closures, and it has abandoned plans to open its first overseas exhibition space in London in partnership with the Victoria and Albert Museum in September. Since the revised plan for the castle and the arts and industries building focuses on essential upgrades such as electrical and plumbing systems and a new roof and new windows, it will be funded primarily by Congress, has d ‘first reported The Post. The discounted cost was not disclosed.

The Smithsonian is currently completing the first draft of the master plan, a renovation of the exterior of the Hirshhorn Museum and, soon, the sculpture garden. Construction of the castle and the arts and industries building is expected to begin in 2023, St. Thomas said, and is expected to take at least five years. (The last major renovation of the castle was completed in 1968.) The third project, the removal and subsequent restoration of the Enid A. Haupt garden to replace the roof of the building below, is not expected to begin until 2029.

Several new museums could also soon join the campus: a National Museum of Latin American and a National Museum of Women’s History, both recently approved by Congress as part of its year-end spending bill. St. Thomas said the Arts and Industries building is being considered to house the Latin America Museum, but a site has yet to be selected.

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Boeing closes $ 2.5 billion settlement with US over 737 Max

Boeing will pay more than $ 2.5 billion in a settlement agreement with the Justice Department following the 737 Max debacle, the government said Thursday. The deal resolves a criminal charge that Boeing conspired to defraud the Federal Aviation Administration, which regulates the company and rates its planes.

The Max was grounded around the world in March 2019 after 346 people were killed in two crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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Stimulus offers $ 15 billion in relief to struggling arts venues

For music hall owners, theater producers, and cultural institutions who have suffered from the pandemic without business, the coronavirus relief program that congressional leaders agreed to this week offers the prospect of help at last: it includes $ 15 billion to help them overcome a crisis that has shut down theaters and silent venues.

The money, which is part of a $ 900 billion coronavirus relief program, is designed to help the cultural sector – from rock clubs to dive bars to Broadway theaters and museums – to survive. Many small owners have described it as their last hope of being able to stay in business after an income drought of almost a year.

“This is what our industry needs to be successful,” said Dayna Frank, owner of First Avenue, a historic Minneapolis music club. She is also chair of the board of directors of the National Independent Venue Association, which was formed in April and which lobbied Congress for relief for its more than 3,000 members.

As word of the deal began to spread on Sunday night, a collective sigh of relief ricocheted through group text messages and social media posts. “Last night was my first smile in probably nine months,” Ms. Frank said.

Broadway theaters, closed since March, have applauded the relief program.

“We are grateful for this bipartisan agreement which will bring immediate relief to our entire industry and a lifeline for the future,” said Charlotte St. Martin, President of the Broadway League, the professional organization of producers. and theater owners, in a statement.

Nataki Garrett, artistic director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, said the help would be crucial for nonprofit theaters. “Our situation was critical and dire,” she said.

But leaders of some large cultural nonprofits feared that the way the bill is structured – prioritizing organizations that have lost very high percentages of their income before considering the rest – could put them in the spotlight. End of the race for grants because they usually get a significant portion of income through donations.

With the bill due to be approved by both houses of Congress as early as Monday night, arts groups across the country cautiously rejoiced as they studied the fine print to see what kind of help they could get. Most doubt the entertainment industry can return to full action until next year, at the earliest.

The bill allows independent entertainment companies, such as concert halls and cinemas, as well as other cultural entities, to apply for grants from the Small Business Administration to support six months of payments to employees and for costs such than rent, utilities and maintenance. Applicants must have lost at least 25% of their earnings to qualify, and those who have lost more than 90% will be able to apply first, within the first two weeks of the bill coming into force.

Grants will be capped at $ 10 million.

The core of these provisions was proposed to the Senate in July by Amy Klobuchar, Democrat of Minnesota, and John Cornyn, Republican of Texas. As relief efforts languished for months in Washington, places and institutions began to give way. According to the independent association of the places, at least 300 music spots have been closed since the start of the pandemic.

Senator Klobuchar credited local groups with a relentless campaign to persuade members of Congress of their economic and cultural value to local communities.

“These are the grassroots efforts of musicians, theaters and fans across the country,” Ms. Klobuchar said in an interview on Monday. “And it was the fact that the coalition remained united. They did not clash.

The pandemic has forced small concert halls and nonprofit theaters – normally foreign to Washington – to learn the art of lobbying. The owners spoke about the elbow grease they put into building their businesses, the ancillary benefits to local communities through tourism and restoration, and the historic role arts organizations have played in revitalizing local communities. ravaged corridors of urban America.

The idea of ​​the suffering of cultural groups in all corners of the country helped this part of the relief package gain broad bipartisan support.

In addition to theaters and museums, the bill will allow talent agents and managers to seek redress. The bill would restrict publicly traded companies and other big players.

“I wanted to make sure this doesn’t benefit Ticketmasters around the world,” Ms. Klobuchar said.

Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader in the Senate, has been a strong advocate for cultural relief – he wore a “Save Our Stages” mask during the latest wave of negotiations on Capitol Hill last week – with, understandably, particular emphasis on groups in New York, including Broadway theaters.

“It wasn’t just Broadway,” Mr. Schumer said in an interview. “It’s more independent theaters that are the cornerstone of New York. Young people come to New York, and that’s part of the reason they come – to cities in general, not just New York. “

“The non-profit and artistic world is very important for the economies of cities,” he added. “People forget that.”

For some of the mom-pop operators who found themselves campaigning for relief, the process was a must-do, even if it was baffling.

“We used to call managers and agents to book talent,” said Chris Bauman of Zenith Music Group, which operates a handful of venues in Chicago. “Now we are immersed in this crazy world of politics. Eighty hours a week of zooming in with mayors, senators, members of Congress.

“It shows that it is possible to do it,” Bauman added, fighting back tears. “Do not be outdone.”

Sarah Bahr contributed reporting.

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Video: Congress reaches deal on $ 900 billion coronavirus relief plan

new video loaded: Congress reaches deal on $ 900 billion coronavirus relief plan

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transcription

Congress reaches deal on $ 900 billion coronavirus relief plan

Majority leader Sen. Mitch McConnell said on Sunday night that the stimulus package would provide $ 600 in payments to Americans – half of what the government sent to many Americans in April.

Further assistance is underway. Moments ago, in consultation with our committees, the four leaders of the Senate and House finalized a deal that would be another major bailout for the American people as our citizens continue to fight this coronavirus this season. holidays. They will not fight alone. We agreed to a package of almost $ 900 billion. It is full of targeted policies that help struggling Americans who have already waited too long for workers in hardest-hit small businesses. There will be a second targeted draw of the Paycheck Protection Program. We haven’t worked so hard to save as many jobs as possible. All these months, just to fumble the ball with the vaccinations already in progress and talking about vaccines, we can undo the success of Operation Warp Speed ​​by falling asleep at the dispense switch. This agreement will therefore provide enormous sums for the logistics that will allow our fellow citizens to benefit as quickly as possible from these vital images. Of course, millions of Americans have lost their jobs and continue to lose them through no fault of their own. This program will renew and extend a number of important additional federal unemployment benefits that have helped families stay afloat in all kinds of families in all kinds of situations. It has been a difficult time at all levels. So with this particular request, a focus on President Trump and his administration, our agreement will provide another round of direct impact payments to help households make ends meet and continue our economic recovery.

Recent episodes of Coronavirus pandemic: latest updates

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Congress signs long-awaited stimulus deal to provide $ 900 billion in aid

WASHINGTON – Congress leaders affected deal on Sunday on a $ 900 billion stimulus package that would provide out-of-pocket payments and unemployment aid to struggling Americans and much-needed funds for small businesses, hospitals, schools and vaccine distribution, overcoming months of deadlock on a measure intended to stimulate the economy in the grip of the pandemic.

Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, announced the deal Sunday night in the Senate, saying, “We can finally report what our nation has needed to hear for a very long time: More help is on its way.” “

The deal, reached after a new wave of talks, broke a partisan block that had persisted since the summer, came hours before the federal government was ready to run out of funds, and it was not yet clear when the House and the Senate would release it. President Trump. Once drafted, it was to be merged with a catch-all spending measure that would keep the government funded for the remainder of the fiscal year, creating a $ 2.3 trillion monster whose passage will be the last act. major of Congress before the adjournment of the year.

The deal is expected to provide $ 600 in stimulus payments to U.S. adults and children, and boost additional federal unemployment benefits to $ 300 per week – half the level of assistance provided by the $ 2.2 trillion stimulus bill. dollars passed in March, as the devastating health and economy of the coronavirus pandemic impact had only just emerged.

It would extend two federal unemployment programs that expanded and extended regular benefits, and would have expired next week without Congressional action. The deal will most likely provide rental and food assistance, as well as billions of dollars for schools and small businesses, reviving the Paycheck Protection Program, a federal loan program that expired this year. .

The two most thorny political obstacles that stood in its way for months were notably absent from the final compromise. In order to strike a deal just before Christmas and allow Congress to adjourn, Republicans agreed to drop a broad coronavirus liability shield and Democrats agreed to omit a direct stream of aid to states and governments. local governments.

While the deal marked a triumphant moment in talks that had long been stalled, it was much smaller than the one Democrats had long insisted on, and nearly twice the size of what Republicans had said they were. could never accept in the days leading up to the November election. Democrats had refused for months to reduce their demands for a multibillion-dollar package, citing the devastating toll of the virus, and Republicans opposed another large infusion of federal aid, pointing to the growing deficit.

In a nod to Conservative concerns about the overall price of a package, the legislation is expected to reuse nearly $ 500 billion previously allocated under previous stimulus packages, Mr McConnell said.

But in the end, the crucial breakthrough came on Saturday just before midnight, when Republicans scrapped efforts to ban the Federal Reserve from establishing certain emergency loan programs to help stabilize the economy going forward. .

Pennsylvania Republican Senator Patrick J. Toomey launched a last-minute effort to stop the Fed and the Treasury Department from implementing a loan program similar to the one created this year that helped keep credit going to municipalities, businesses and mediums. corporate borrowers in times of crisis. After a wave of talks between him and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, the agreed alternative would only ban programs that were more or less faithful to those newly employed in 2020.

At nearly $ 1 trillion, the package was one of the largest federal relief measures in American history. Still, the resulting compromise was well short of what most economists said was needed to shake the shaky economy, and would leave President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., who pushed for the compromise, to face the task of researching yet another major economic economy. first aid kit when he takes up his post in January.

The relief plan will be associated with a $ 1.4 trillion government spending bill. Included are 12 annual appropriation bills to fund each federal ministry and social safety net programs, as well as an array of complementary legislative legislators attached to ensure their priorities could be passed before Congress adjourns for the year.

Mr McConnell said the two parties were still finalizing the text at dinner time in Washington, and he did not indicate when they would formally introduce a bill or put it to a vote.

“I hope we can do this as quickly as possible,” said McConnell.

This is a developing story. Please come back for updates.

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Staring Down Deadline, Congress Approaches $ 900 Billion Stimulus Deal

Other measures of economic activity have also slowed in recent weeks and claims for unemployment benefits have increased. For the millions of Americans who already rely on unemployment benefits, the situation could be even more dire if two programs that extend and extend the unemployment insurance system expire after next week without congressional action.

Republicans continued to insist that a package should stay below $ 1 trillion in order to maintain support in their ranks, leaving lawmakers and staff to grapple with funding levels for the various provisions and programs of the new measure. President Nancy Pelosi of California and Mr. Schumer spoke with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin for about 45 minutes on Wednesday as they worked to work out the final details.

The measure, which builds on a $ 748 billion bill proposed by a bipartisan group of moderates this week, is expected to include $ 25 billion to establish a program that would provide emergency rent assistance to families affected by the pandemic, as well as billions for vaccine development. and distribution, broadband and schools across the country.

Negotiators were still discussing the possible inclusion of House legislation that provides for funds to be distributed to states and cities and to fully cover the costs of emergency work during the pandemic. They were also still arguing over an expansion and extension of unemployment benefits and their duration. The deal is expected to revive expired enhanced unemployment benefits to about $ 300 per week, half of the original benefit approved in March, which expired over the summer. But Republicans insisted on reducing the number of benefit weeks to help offset the cost of the stimulus payments.

In addition to unemployment assistance, the plan would provide a one-time direct payment to Americans, estimated at around $ 600 per person, or half the amount provided for in the March stimulus bill.

Independent Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont, who expressed his belief Democrats too easily succumbed to Republican demands, and West Virginia Democrat Senator Joe Manchin III, a leader of the bipartisan group, had a heated exchange over a private. The Democratic caucus is calling on progressives to increase the amount of out-of-pocket payments, according to three people familiar with the discussion.

“This will be a progressive who will stand up and vote for something because we don’t want to take $ 600 away from American families before Christmas and we don’t want to take unemployment benefits away from people,” Representative Ro Khanna said, Democrat of California.