Cruise lines excluded from Senate’s $2 trillion stimulus bill
Major cruise lines, several of whom saw the first outbreaks of coronavirus on their ships, will likely not see a dime of the $2 trillion stimulus package the Senate passed late Wednesday night.
The economic stimulus package includes $500 billion in loans and loan guarantees to industries affected by the pandemic, but in order to be eligible for those loans, a company must be “created or organized in the United States or under the laws of the United States” and “have significant operations in and a majority of its employees based in the United States.”
The same logic applies to private citizens, who must have a Social Security number and file American income taxes to be eligible for stimulus checks.
Unlike other hospitality industries, most prominent cruise lines offshore their headquarters and much of their workforce, meaning that they do not pay American taxes or solely employ Americans.
Carnival Corp., owner of the Princess cruise lines — a company that endured a number of COVID-19 outbreaks on several ships last month — is headquartered in Panama. Royal Caribbean is incorporated in Liberia and Norwegian Cruise Lines is headquartered in Bermuda.
This tactic, according to a report from The Washington Post, is done largely to avoid paying American corporate taxes and following American labor laws.
“We don’t need a bailout in terms of giving us money. Getting a loan guarantee would be helpful,” Carnival chief executive Arnold Donald said recently on HBO.
When asked at a White House briefing Thursday about a call by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) for cruise ship companies to become based in the United States, Trump said, “I like the concept.”
“Come back to America. And pay your taxes,” Hawley tweeted Thursday afternoon. “How about that?”
Trump said though it’s “very hard” to consider making them eligible for loans, he noted they do employ many people and promote economic activity.
“It’s very hard to make a loan to a company when they’re based in a different country, but with that being said, they have thousands and thousands of people who work there,” he said. “The cruise line business is very important. … We’re going to try and work something out.”
The cruise ship industry’s trade group, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), provided a plan to policymakers, meeting with Vice President Pence and a phone call from Micky Arison, chairman of the Carnival Corp., to President Trump, according to the Post.
“For the more than 421,000 people in the United States whose jobs are supported by the cruise industry, we will continue to work with policymakers to help our community recover from the impact of this pandemic,” CLIA spokeswoman Bari Golin-Blaugrund, told the Post.
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