Washington, DC – Congresswoman Jackie Speier (CA-14) was joined by Congressman Mike Thompson (CA-05), Congressman John Garamendi (CA-03), Congressman Jesús G. “Chuy” García (IL-04), and Congresswoman Jahana Hayes (CT-05) in sending a letter urging Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer to include strong conditions on any financial assistance offered to the cruise industry in response to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.
The Members’ letter states in part, “For decades, cruise companies have deliberately dodged U.S. taxes by incorporating in tax shelters and registering vessels under foreign flags. Operating foreign-flagged vessels also allows cruise lines to circumvent U.S. labor, safety, and regulatory requirements. While low tax rates and labor costs have allowed cruise companies to net sizable profits, the industry has spent billions on share repurchasing to line the pockets of executives and investors and failed to invest in addressing its abysmal environmental record and massive carbon footprint.”
The letter further states, “Without strong protections for passengers, workers, and the environment, any assistance to the cruise industry will only allow bad actors to continue harmful and unethical behaviors. If cruise lines want aid from the U.S. government, they should play by its rules and uphold its values.”
The letter proposes the following requirements in any stimulus provided to the cruise industry.
· Require cruise lines to reimburse passengers the full amount paid for any cancellations related to COVID-19.
· Prohibit companies from using stimulus funds for stock buybacks or executive pay increases.
· Freeze dividend payments until any loan amounts are paid back in full.
· Require companies to develop plans to drastically reduce emissions of carbon, methane, nitrogen oxides, and Black Carbon, including by reducing the use of heavy fuel oil and Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems.
· Increase penalties for illegally dumping untreated waste in open water and prohibit any dumping of treated or untreated waste in Alaska and the U.S. Arctic.
· Establish a sampling, monitoring, and reporting program to ensure compliance with pollution limits and an inspection program that places trained and independent observers on vessels to oversee operations, equipment, and discharges.
A copy of the letter is attached to this press release.
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