Bipartisan group of senators press Buttigieg on overdue tourism infrastructure plan

Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg speaks at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

A group of bipartisan senators wrote a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Tuesday asking why his department has missed Congress’s deadline to update its strategy on tourism infrastructure.

The group, which is led by Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) and joined by Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), asked Buttigieg for a briefing that includes a proposed timeline for the update and an explanation for the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) delay.

“The travel and tourism industry is the cornerstone of many of our states’ economies, responsible for millions of good-paying jobs across a number of industries,” the senators wrote. 

“It is imperative that DOT promptly update and release the National Travel and Tourism Infrastructure Strategic Plan in order to meet the needs of the travel and tourism industry and the requirements that Congress directed in enacted law,” they continued.

The strategy comprises an assessment of the nation’s transportation network and strategies for how to improve it in relation to tourism and long-haul passenger travel. It also includes projections on tourism volumes for the next 20-year period.

The Transportation Department published the strategy on the last full day of former President Trump’s administration in January 2021 after missing a 2018 deadline mandated by Congress.

Last year’s sweeping bipartisan infrastructure law included a provision from the six senators instructing the Biden-era department to update the document to better account for the state of the tourism industry coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Days before the May deadline, Buttigieg testified before a Senate panel that his department was waiting for the federal government’s interagency tourism council, which is led by the Commerce Department, to release its new tourism strategy before the DOT releases its plan.

“I can tell you that we’re working on all of these pieces,” Buttigieg said at the time.

That group released its plan in June, and the Transportation Department has yet to provide its updated strategy.

“Unfortunately, while it has now been well over 300 days since the [bipartisan infrastructure law] was signed into law, and more than 100 days since the Department of Commerce released its National Travel and Tourism Strategy, we have not yet seen an updated National Travel and Tourism Infrastructure Strategic Plan from DOT,” the senators wrote.

A Transportation Department spokesperson said officials will follow up with the senators directly.

Tags Amy Klobuchar Amy Klobuchar Catherine Cortez Masto Catherine Cortez Masto Jacky Rosen Jacky Rosen Pete Buttigieg Pete Buttigieg Rick Scott Rick Scott Roger Wicker Roger Wicker Roy Blunt Roy Blunt tourism Transportation Department Trump

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