Common Ground profiles members of opposing parties who are working together to advance issues important to hoteliers.
by SEAN GROSSNICKLE
Every year, the General Services Administration (GSA) sets the per diem rates for the lower 48 Continental United States (CONUS). The per diem rates establish an allowance for federal employees to cover lodging, meals, and incidental expenses incurred while on official travel. In the CONUS, the per diem rates for the fiscal year (FY) are based on the average daily rate (ADR) reported by local contractors within a county, zip code, or locality. The standard rate for per diem reimbursements applies to 85% of counties in the CONUS.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the lodging industry, leading to record-low ADRs in markets across the country. Using the distressed ADR from the past year as the benchmark for future per diem rates would be detrimental to the industry’s recovery. Official government travel is a vital source of traffic for many hotels. Federal employees buy their meals and book their rooms with the per diem allowance. Limiting the per diem would affect their ability to travel and work on the road while also cutting revenue for small business in the hospitality industry.
U.S. Representatives Bill Posey (R-FL-8) and Charlie Crist (D-FL-3) joined forces to stabilize per diem rates. In March, the Florida Congressmen reintroduced H.R. 2104., “to prohibit the Administrator of General Services from setting CONUS per diem-reimbursements rates below a certain level.” This bipartisan legislation would require the GSA to stabilize future per diem rates based on the FY 2020 level, which was set before the pandemic. If passed, the bill would freeze the FY 2022 and 2023 per diem rates at the FY 2020 level.
Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL-8), Co-Sponsor of H.R. 2104
“Coronavirus-related travel restrictions and shutdowns have had a crippling effect on our whole economy, especially the hospitality and tourism industry, which is essential to Florida and many other travel destinations around the country. Setting per diem rates at the 2020 level is one important way that the federal government can help struggling businesses and their employees recover faster, and I thank Congressman Crist for working with me to reintroduce this legislation.”
Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL-3), Co-sponsor of H.R. 2104
“Tourism is critical to Florida’s economy. Because of COVID’s heavy impact on travel, it makes no sense to base hotel per diem rates on 2020 numbers, which was obviously an outlier for the industry. I’m proud to work with Congressman Posey on this bipartisan bill to support Florida’s hotel workers and owners to keep the Sunshine State the premiere travel destination for business, pleasure, and government travel.”