Klobuchar Backed Legislation to Support Travel & Tourism and Improve Broadband Data Maps Clear Commerce Committee
U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar announced that legislation to support travel and tourism and improve the FCC's broadband data maps have passed the Senate Commerce Committee.
Legislation to reauthorize Brand USA, a public-private partnership that enhances tourism across the country by promoting international travel to the United States, would support travel & tourism, and boost jobs. In addition to Klobuchar, this legislation is led by Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), and Cory Gardner (R-CO).
"International tourism to the United States helps drive billions in sales every year, powering economic growth across the country," Klobuchar said. "The vote this week brings us a step closer ensuring that Brand USA has the funding to fulfill its mission of encouraging travelers from around the world to visit the United States."
The Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (DATA) Act would improve the accuracy of the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) broadband availability maps by improving the process by which broadband data is collected. Specifically, the Broadband DATA Act would require the FCC to collect more granular data from fixed, wireless, and satellite broadband providers, strengthen the accuracy of data from mobile broadband providers, consider a process to ensure data is reliable, and create a process for state, local, and Tribal governments to challenge the FCC maps accuracy. In addition to Klobuchar, this legislation is led by Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), and Senator John Thune (R-SD), Chair of the Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet.
"Broadband is key to keeping rural America competitive in the 21st century and beyond," Klobuchar said. "The vote this week brings us closer to closing the digital divide with granular data collection for more accurate mapping so that we can bring high-speed internet to every family, regardless of their zip code."
In May, Senators Klobuchar, Roy Blunt (R-MO), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), and Cory Gardner (R-CO) sent a letter with 43 bipartisan Senators urging the Chairs and Ranking Members of the Senate Commerce and Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committees to protect and renew funding for Brand USA. Since 2013, Brand USA has brought 6.6 million incremental international visitors to the United States, generating a total economic impact of nearly $48 billion and supporting an average of around 52,000 jobs annually. In 2018, Brand USA generated $4.1 billion in incremental visitor spending, resulting in a marketing return on investment of 32:1.
As a member of the Senate Commerce Committee and co-chair of both the bipartisan Senate Broadband Caucus and the Senate Travel and Tourism Caucus, Klobuchar has long championed closing the digital divide and supported efforts to protect consumers and increase tourism to the U.S. as a way to drive economic growth. Earlier this year, Klobuchar and Senator Shelley Moore Capito's (R-WV) legislation to improve broadband connectivity passed the Senate. The Measuring the Economic Impact of Broadband Act would require the Bureau of Economic Analysis, in consultation with the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Technology, to conduct a study of the effects of the digital economy and the adoption of broadband deployment on the U.S. economy. Last month, Klobuchar and Wicker's Broadband Interagency Coordination Act passed the Senate Commerce Committee. It would direct the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to coordinate and share information on their broadband deployment efforts so federal funds are used effectively to target unserved and underserved areas. In March, Klobuchar, Capito, and Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and John Hoeven (R-ND) introduced bipartisan legislation to improve the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) broadband coverage maps. The Improving Broadband Mapping Act directs the FCC to initiate a rulemaking to consider using consumer-reported data and state and local data from government entities to improve broadband mapping accuracy while also considering ways that both fixed and mobile coverage data can be challenged.
Additionally this week, Senator Klobuchar and Senator Steve Daines introduced the Stop Online Booking Scams Act which would give the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) more rulemaking and investigative authority to protect consumers from illegitimate third party websites that trick consumers into thinking they are making reservations directly with hotels. In April, Senator Klobuchar and Daines sent a letter to major online hotel booking companies asking them to commit to improving protections for online consumers. Booking Holdings, Inc. (Booking Holdings) or Expedia Group, Inc. (Expedia Group) affiliates Booking.com, Expedia, Agoda, Hotels.com, ebookers, and trivago made commitments to change certain business practices in order to protect consumers in the United Kingdom. In a letter to the Chief Executive Officers of Booking Holdings and Expedia Group, the senators asked that they make these same commitments with respect to their online hotel booking businesses in the United States.