‘Brand USA’ renewal included in funding bill

A five-year reauthorization of a tourism campaign that is credited with attracting 1.1 million visitors to the U.S. and creating $32 million worth of economic activity in 2013 is included in the government funding bill that was released Monday evening by Congress.  

The program, known as Brand USA, is a public-private partnership that is funded in part with money that is collected from fees that are paid by international travelers for visa applications when they visit the U.S. 

Lawmakers have inserted language to reauthorize the program until 2020 into the $1.1 trillion “cromnibus” funding legislation that was unveiled this week to prevent a government shutdown. 

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The prior Brand USA renewal legislation, which was sponsored Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharNew poll catapults Buttigieg to frontrunner position in Iowa Election 2020: Why I'm watching Amy and Andy 2020 Democrats demand action on guns after Santa Clarita shooting MORE (D-Minn.), had been known as the Travel Promotion, Enhancement, and Modernization Act, before it was inserted into the 2015 spending package. 

The Brand USA program was first created by Congress in 2010. 

The federal government’s portion of the Brand USA funding is up to $100 million that comes from the Department of Homeland Security’s Electronic System for Travel Authorization fees on visa applications. The rest of the money is raised from the private sector. 

Congress is expected to complete work this week on the government appropriations package, which includes a large number of policy riders in addition to the Brand USA renewal, before they break for the holidays. Current funding expires on Dec. 11. 

The proposed measure is expected to keep all government agencies open through September 2015, except for the Department of Homeland Security. Agencies dealing with immigration policy would only be funded through late winter, likely through February.