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Lugar’s Response

Here is the response to my letter to Senator Lugar about S. 1023.
Lugar, unlike Bayh, understood my concerns, even if we disagree.

Dear Mr. TQE:

Thank you for contacting me to share your concerns related to the revenue raising provisions in S. 1023, the Travel Promotion Act. I appreciate having the benefit of the perspective you bring to this subject as an American living abroad.

I took particular note of your concerns that the assessment of fees on those participating in the Visa Waiver program may actually deter individuals from visiting the United States, putting the effect of the bill at cross-purposes to its intent. While I am sensitive to this argument, I believe the overall bill is meritorious and that it is important for the U.S. to remain competitive in attracting foreign travelers and the welcome addition their business provides our domestic economy, including a growth in tourism related jobs.

As you know, the Travel Promotion Act would create a new public-private partnership called the “Corporation for Travel Promotion,” which will be charged with providing useful information to people interested in traveling to the United States, countering and correcting misperceptions regarding U.S. entry policy, and promoting U.S. travel. Under the bill, the Corporation would have an annual budget of up to $200 million, funded equally by private donations and public funds. The federal funding component, as you outlined, would be raised through the assessment of $10 fees on foreign visitors participating in the Visa Waiver program. It is estimated that these fees will ultimately provide more revenue than necessary to cover the expenditure required for the Corporation’s activities. In part because of this fact, the Congressional Budget Office has calculated that the Travel Promotion Act could allow for an actual reduction in the budget deficit-by $425 million-over a ten year period.

Despite our differing opinions on the overall merit and potential effect of this legislation, I would note that I share many of the concerns you outlined regarding the deficiencies of some of our current entry policies. As you indicated, it will be important for Congress to review this issue and to seek ways in which we may be able to streamline procedures while still maintaining important safety mechanisms in place. Through my role as the Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I look forward to opportunities to work with my colleagues in Congress and the Administration on this important matter.

Thank you, again, for writing to me.

Sincerely,

Richard G. Lugar
United States Senator

3 comments to Lugar’s Response

  • koko

    wow a much more appropriate response! At least he really addressed what you spoke of in your letter.

    • Yeah… and I’m more inclined to vote for Lugar again and again.

      In the Democratic primary I will vote against Bayh every single time now. In the General election, the Republicans will have to put up somebody exceptionally good before I’ll vote against him. I think Bayh is an adequate placeholder until a better Democrat or fantastic Republican comes along.

  • My goodness! Someone actually read your letter and made cogent responses to your queries. Too bad he’s still behind the fee, but pleasure of witnessing a civil exchange of ideas is overwhelming!