On Jan. 20, 2021, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris received the keys to the White House. In the wake of the tense 2020 election cycle, the Biden administration must confront innumerable challenges, ranging from reconciliation to recovery.
A POLARIZED SYSTEM
The aftermath of the 2020 elections sowed deep and disruptive polarization in the American political system. With the second COVID-19 relief package signed into law and the pivotal Georgia Senate runoff races tilting the balance of power in favor of the Democratic party, President Biden could choose the road less traveled in years past – a bipartisan legislative agenda geared towards economic recovery, public health care, and direct stimulus to invigorate the economy.
Now, in 2021, President Biden will embark upon his presidency with Democratic control in both chambers of Congress, albeit with a slim majority. The pandemic response will remain center stage for the fledgling administration. With ambitious policy proposals vulnerable to filibusters and party-line defectors, the Biden administration will take an incremental approach when introducing policies promised on the campaign trail.
NEW ADMINISTRATION, SAME CHALLENGES. WHAT’S NEXT?
America’s hoteliers are 11 months into the most devastating period for the hotel industry in decades. President Biden has experience with national crises, having engaged in the 2008 recession and subsequent recovery. In the Obama administration, Biden spearheaded the stimulus efforts in Congress, relying upon his experience as an institutionalist lawmaker to negotiate across the aisle. Under these parameters, Biden will aim to prioritize national distribution of vaccines coupled with measures to bolster public health and safety. As the vaccine distribution program is underway, AAHOA is engaging with federal agencies to ensure that hotel staff, who have been deemed essential workers since the onset of the pandemic, are appropriately categorized into the distribution plan.
The Biden administration will inherit the $900-billion relief package passed in December of 2020. A new round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding, debt relief, and tax-deductible provisions will remain unaltered. AAHOA President & CEO Cecil P. Staton issued the following statement on this package:
“For hoteliers, the most significant components in this package include a second round of PPP funding to help keep employees on payroll during the most difficult time of year. We also particularly appreciate that congressional leaders understood the unique challenges faced by hoteliers and provided an increase in the PPP loan amounts to our industry. In addition to addressing payroll challenges, this bill also includes critical banking relief to enable hoteliers to defer mortgage payments for the near term. AAHOA Members and our partners across lodging, banking, and small business rallied together to fight for a year-long extension for troubled debt restructuring (TDR) classification and after much debate, our priority was included in the final bill. The legislation also includes more funding for Small Business Administration programs, including 504, 7(a) and Economic Disaster Loans (EIDL). We are grateful for these inclusions because they are literally the difference between remaining open and going into foreclosure for countless hotel owners.”
The Biden administration also has clarified its intention to implement mask mandates and social-distancing guidelines aimed to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Aiming to vaccinate 100 million more Americans in 100 days, the new administration posits a promising step toward recovery, even as the pandemic rages.