Press Releases

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WASHINGTON – President Obama signed into law a five-year extension of the Travel Promotion, Enhancement, and Modernization Act last night.  The legislation authored by Congressional Travel and Tourism Caucus co-chair Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., and co-sponsored by co-chair Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif., and caucus member Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt.,  strengthens the United States’ competitiveness in the global travel and tourism markets by reauthorizing Brand USA – a public-private partnership designed to encourage tourism to the United States. The act also enhances Brand USA by adding a number of accountability and transparency requirements.
"Tourism is an integral part of our economy – especially in Florida,” said Bilirakis. “Increased tourism means more American and Floridian jobs. My bill means job growth without utilizing a cent of taxpayer money. In fact, it lowers the deficit. Millions of Americans across the country are still struggling, and Brand USA reauthorization is a jobs bill with a proven track record. I am pleased my initiative is now law. It is a big win for all Americans in the service and tourism industries, and Floridians all across the state, including the Tampa Bay area. Common sense solutions like these to boost the economy and create jobs will spur our economic recovery."
“Marketing our tourism industry globally creates jobs locally,” said Farr. “Travel is our nation’s number one export, supporting one in nine jobs here in the United States. Bringing in more visitors will not only help strengthen our national economy but it will help create jobs in every single community throughout the country.”
Brand USA, which is completely funded by international visitors and private industry contributions, is the country’s first national Destination Marketing Organization and markets the United States as a premier travel destination to world. The program’s activities brought in an additional 1.1 million visitors to the United States, resulting in a $7.4 billion impact on the economy and supported the creation of over 50,000 new jobs in fiscal year 2013. 
The Travel Promotion, Enhancement, and Modernization Act was included in the omnibus appropriations bill that passed the House last Thursday. The Senate approved the bill on Saturday, sending it to the President’s desk for his signature. The language pertaining to Brand USA’s reauthorization can be found in Division B, Title VI of the omnibus bill.
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WASHINGTON – Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif., released the following statement after Rajiv Shah announced he was resigning as the head of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID):
“I join many in thanking Raj Shah for his service at USAID. For the past five years, Raj has been on the frontlines of the most pressing humanitarian issues of our time. From the Ebola outbreak in West Africa to the refugee crisis in Syria, Raj has helped bring relief, support and hope to millions of people around the globe. His role was not an easy one and I am grateful for the enthusiasm, commitment and heart with which he approached his job. It was a privilege to work with him.”   

Rohrabacher-Farr amendment prevents federal government from prosecuting medical marijuana patients

WASHINGTON, DC – Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif., released the following statement after it was announced the omnibus spending bill that Congress is expected to vote on this week will include the bipartisan Rohrabacher-Farr amendment which prevents the federal government from using funds to arrest and prosecute medical marijuana patients or distributors who are in compliance with their state’s laws. The House of Representatives previously approved the amendment 219-189 in May during the debate over the FY 2015 CJS Appropriations Bill:
“This is great news for medical marijuana patients all across the country. The public has made it clear that they want common sense drug policies. The majority of states have passed reasonable medical marijuana laws but the federal government still lags behind.  Our amendment prevents the unnecessary prosecution of patients while the federal government catches up with the views of the American people.
“We need to rethink how we treat medical marijuana in this country and today’s announcement is a big step in the right direction. Patients can take comfort knowing they will have safe access to the medical care they need without fear of federal prosecution. And all of us can feel better knowing our federal dollars will be spent more wisely fighting actual crimes and not wasted going after patients.”
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WASHINGTON – Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif., released the following statement after learning that Alan Gross was released from prison in Cuba and President Obama’s speech about modernizing US-Cuban relations. Rep. Farr traveled to Cuba to meet with Gross in May and has pushed for normalized relations with Cuba throughout his career:
“It is long overdue for Alan Gross, his wife Judy and his family to be reunited, especially during Hanukkah. I met with Alan in May in Cuba and it is wonderful to see him back on US soil. His release is the first step towards a new era of US-Cuban Policy. 
“When I traveled to Colombia in 2012 for the Summit of the Americas with President Obama, it was clear that the United States stood alone in our antiquated policy towards Cuba. I applaud the President’s decision to join the rest of our neighbors in the hemisphere and develop a modern relationship with Cuba.
“Today the President outlined a bold path forward. After 50 years, our embargo has done nothing to improve the lives of the Cuban people. I have pushed for a new policy towards Cuba and was encouraged to hear many of the changes I have fought for included in the President’s plan. I was particularly glad to hear a renewed emphasis on people-to-people engagement; the American people are the best ambassadors for American values.  The President took historic steps today and I look forward to working with him and my colleagues in Congress to develop a mature relationship with Cuba.”  
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WASHINGTON, DC – Rep. Sam Farr, D-Carmel, released the following statement after President Obama announced his plan to use his Executive Authority Powers to address our broken immigration system:
“Congressional Republicans’ unwillingness to govern has left the President no choice but to act. Our immigration system is broken; weakening our economy, threatening our national security and tearing families apart. Afraid of upsetting the intolerant Tea Party, House Republicans have ignored their responsibilities by refusing to take up the bipartisan bill passed by the Senate almost two years ago. I joined with my Democratic colleagues to try to force a vote but we could not convince enough Republicans to join us.
“The President said tonight that the American people will no longer tolerate inaction from Washington. His plan is both reasonable and legal. It shifts our resources towards increased security by strengthening our borders and prioritizing the deportation of violent criminals and felons. It also demonstrates our true national values by keeping families together.
“There is still more work to be done. This plan is a good first step but it does not fully address all of our immigration problems. It does not go far enough to protect our local economy by ensuring that the agriculture industry has access to a stable workforce. However, the President’s announcement will force Congress to finally address our broken immigration system. The President and the American people will no longer let Republicans duck the issue. Inaction, more grid-lock or another government shutdown are not the answer. A vote now on the Senate's bipartisan bill is the only responsible thing to do."
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