Biden signs bill to help Alaska cruise industry
President Biden invited a trio of Republican lawmakers to the White House on Monday to sign into law a bill aimed at reviving the cruise ship industry in Alaska, which had been hit hard during the coronavirus pandemic.
On Monday afternoon, Biden signed into law the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act, which temporarily allows cruise ships to sail directly from Washington state to Alaska without having to stop in Canada, which currently has in place restrictions on cruise ships docking in its ports due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Passenger Vessel Services Act requires that foreign-flag ships stop at foreign ports. The new law waives that restriction until Canada lifts its coronavirus-related ban on cruise ships.
Biden signed the bill at a private ceremony with Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan and Rep. Don Young, all of whom are Alaska Republicans. Murkowski and Young were the lead sponsors of the bills in the Senate and House, respectively.
Before the signing ceremony, White House press secretary Jen Psaki described the bill as “a critical step to returning to normal in a state where one in 10 jobs is in the tourism industry” during a briefing with reporters.
“This bill is an example of the critical bipartisan work that can be done in Congress and the president is grateful to Sen. Murkowski, Congressman Young for their leadership in this area,” Psaki said.
Biden has held a number of meetings with Republicans at the White House to show he can work across the aisle, though he’s been unable to get GOP lawmakers to support any of his major legislative proposals thus far.
The White House is currently engaging with Republican senators in hopes of achieving a bipartisan compromise on infrastructure, though there remain considerable differences between both groups that have fueled skepticism about the potential for a bipartisan deal.