This week the U.S. Congress approved $1.1 billion in funding to combat the Zika virus throughout the country.
The funding will provide money for mosquito control, response and readiness in high-risk areas, as well as vaccine research and programs to provide vaccines to the public. Additionally, the program also aims to improve health care for mothers and children expecting health complications as a result of contact with Zika.
It's a move that has been applauded by the American Hotel & Lodging Association. The markets most heavily effected by Zika, Southern coastal cities, have prominent tourism markets and have been heavily affected by the emergence of the disease. Mosquito activity is expected to wane as temperatures cool, but the mosquitoes known for carrying Zika have been known to stick to environments that rarely reach the low temperatures needed to remove their presence altogether.
“We applaud Congress for making the right decision to pass the necessary funding to support new research, vaccines, and advanced solutions to mosquito control just as existing funding was expected to run out,” said AH&LA president and CEO Katherine Lugar. “This much-needed funding will not only help ensure the future health and safety of residents and travelers, but also the strength and stability of the travel industry, particularly those travel destinations hardest hit by the impact of the virus, such as Florida and other areas along the coast.”
The House of Representatives also passed a six-month delay of the Department of Labor's new overtime rule, which is expected to raise the overtime threshold for eligible employees by Dec. 1, 2016 from $23,660 to$47,476. H.R. 6094, the Regulatory Relief for Small Businesses, Schools and Nonprofits Act, was sponsored by Representative Tim Walberg (MI-7) and passed in a vote of 246 to 177.
Opponents of the changes in overtime regulations claim the industry needs more time to comply with the changes the rule stipulates. As many as 40 state associations sent letters to speaker of the House Paul Ryan and minority leader Nancy Pelosi in support of the delay.
“The majority of the hotel industry is made up of small and independent properties who face serious challenges with implementing this rule which is raising the salary threshold too high and too fast. That’s why the action by the House today is so incredibly important and we applaud the passage of this commonsense legislation,” Lugar said in a statement.