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75 House members from both parties and industry groups urge Biden to reopen borders

75 House members from both parties and industry groups urge Biden to reopen borders and lift travel restrictions after months of the White House repeatedly dodging questions

  • A coalition of 24 industry organizations on Wednesday urged the White House to lift restrictions that bar much of the world from traveling to the United States 
  • Separately, in a bipartisan effort, 75 members of the House of Representatives called on Biden to reopen the U.S. border with Canada 
  • The Biden administration showed no signs of taking immediate action 
  • ‘We’re working to continue to assess what criteria would need to be in place in order to reopen travel,’ press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday 
  • Industry and U.S. officials told Reuters they do not expect the administration to lift restrictions soon 

A coalition of 24 industry organizations on Wednesday urged the White House to lift restrictions that bar much of the world from traveling to the United States but the Biden administration showed no signs of taking immediate action. 

Separately, in a bipartisan effort, 75 members of the House of Representatives called on Biden to reopen the U.S. border with Canada to non-essential travelers. Last month, the administration extended restrictions barring non-essential travel at Mexican and Canada land borders until July 21. 

The groups led by U.S. Travel Association and representing airlines, casinos, hotels, airports, airplane manufacturers and others, urged the administration to ease entry restrictions by July 15 that were imposed last year during the pandemic, and to quickly lift entry restrictions on UK travelers. 

Lawmakers and industry groups are pushing the Biden administration to reopen the borders, including the U.S.-Canada border that has been shut down for non-essential travel 

President Joe Biden's administration is not expected to make changes to travel restrictions anytime soon, sources told Reuters. Biden was photographed speaking in Illinois Wednesday

President Joe Biden’s administration is not expected to make changes to travel restrictions anytime soon, sources told Reuters. Biden was photographed speaking in Illinois Wednesday

‘We have the knowledge and the tools we need to restart international travel safely, and it is past time that we use them,’ U.S. Travel Chief Executive Roger Dow said. 

The lawmakers in a letter cited projections that if the restrictions are not lifted, the United States could ‘lose 1.1 million jobs and an additional $175 billion by the end of this year.’ 

The White House did not immediately comment to Reuters.

On Tuesday, press secretary Jen Psaki answered a question on how delta variant concerns were informing travel restrictions. 

‘Well, certainly, as you may know, there are working groups and – with Canada, with European – with our European partners, and we’re working to continue to assess what criteria would need to be in place in order to reopen travel,’ she said. 

‘And we know that, in many cases, families are separated. We know that’s a heartbreaking challenge that a lot of people are dealing with. And a lot of people are eager to travel, be with loved ones, or even do work travel. We understand that. We’re eager to do that as well,’ the press secretary continued. 

She noted that the U.S. has one of the highest vaccinations rates in the world and said that vaccination rates in other countries are being considered when looking at when to reopen travel.   

‘But these working groups are meant to have an open line of transparent communication with these countries about what steps need to be taken,’ she added. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has raised concerns about the Delta variant of COVID-19 in U.S. government meetings, sources said. 

Industry and U.S. officials told Reuters they do not expect the administration to lift restrictions soon.

The CDC wants airlines to implement international passenger contact tracing as part of any lifting of restrictions, sources told Reuters.

The administration has been holding separate working group calls with Mexico, Canada, the United Kingdom and the European Union typically every two weeks to discuss how to unwind the restrictions.

Airlines and others have pressed the administration to lift restrictions covering most non-U.S. citizens who have recently been in Britain, the 26 Schengen nations in Europe without border controls, Ireland, China, India, South Africa, Iran and Brazil.

The 75 lawmakers called for lifting restrictions that bar most UK travelers and to develop ‘a risk-based, data-driven roadmap to ease inbound entry restrictions.’

Some in Congress have also called on the administration to lift requirements that travelers wear masks in airports, subway stations and on airplanes and trains but is not currently considering lifting those requirements, officials told Reuters.

The Transportation Security Administration in April extended the face mask requirement in transit through Sept. 13.  

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