While Congress is in recess until September 4, one legacy of this session is the move by Nevada Senator Harry Reid to introduce the Protecting Resort Cities from Discrimination Act of 2009. The bill will prohibit federal government agencies from discriminating against U.S. cities known as resort destinations – like Las Vegas, Reno or Lake Tahoe – when developing travel and meeting guidelines.
“While President Obama did the right thing by reversing restrictions that were created under the Bush administration, my hope is that this bill will prevent future administrations from following Bush’s lead,” Reid, a Democrat, said in a statement.
“While Nevada is widely known as the world’s most popular resort destination, it is also a great place to do business because it is affordable and there is plenty of meeting space," he said. "If it makes the most sense economically and logistically to hold a meeting in Las Vegas or Reno, then that’s where it should be held. Paying more money to hold a meeting in another city for appearances sake is unfair to all U.S. taxpayers and a waste of their money.”
As reported, earlier this month, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel sent a letter to Senator Reid stating that “federal policy should not dictate the location of where such government events are held.” Emanuel added, “Our view on the issue of government travel is not focused on specific destinations, but rather on the justification for the cost/benefit ratio of the individual exercise.”
According to the Senate Majority leaders office, Reid sent Emanuel’s letter to every Cabinet Secretary and federal agency head to ensure they are aware of the new policy under President Obama and asked any agency with a policy against traveling to Nevada to reverse that policy immediately.