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The front desk inside the JW Marriott hotel. Photo by: Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The hotel industry is asking the federal government for $150 billion in emergency aid, mostly to keep employees on the payroll until the novel coronavirus threat subsides and travelers are ready to hit the road again.

Why it matters: The virus outbreak has already hurt the hotel industry more than the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the Great Recession combined, an industry trade group says. Without immediate help, people at the lower rungs of the economic ladder will suffer the most.

The big picture: Besides $150 billion in aid for hotels — many of which are operated by franchisees or small business owners — the industry is seeking another $100 billion for travel-related businesses like retail shops, attractions and restaurants.

  • Passenger and cargo airlines are seeking an additional $58 billion in relief.

What's new: Hotel and travel industry executives met with President Trump and members of his cabinet on Tuesday afternoon to plea for immediate help.

  • "The president understands the severity of the problem," said Chip Rogers, president of the American Hotel and Lodging Association.
  • "Three weeks ago, our members were enjoying record high occupancy rates and record high employment. The reality now is that half the hotels in the U.S. will close this year."
  • With occupancy rates below 10%, hotels have already laid off 45% of their staff, with more layoffs expected by the end of the week.
  • Marriott Hotels began furloughing what it expects will be tens of thousands of employees worldwide because of widespread travel cancellations across the globe, the Wall Street Journal reports.
  • Many smaller hotel chains in hard-hit cities like Seattle have already closed their doors.

What they're saying: Travel industry losses alone will be enough to push the U.S. economy into recession, predicts AHLA.

  • A projected $355 billion decline in travel spending — transportation, lodging, retail, attractions and restaurants — will deliver an $809 million hit to the U.S. economy and cost 4.6 million travel-related jobs, says the U.S. Travel Association.

What they're seeking: The $150 billion aid package could include:

  • A fund for workforce stabilization that would pay employees more than they'd earn in unemployment benefits, if not their full paychecks.
  • Emergency grants to preserve hotel companies' liquidity.
  • Streamlined Small Business Administration loan programs to support independent hoteliers and franchisees.

What to watch: The government could put restrictions on any financial assistance to make sure the money winds up in employees' pockets rather than in CEO bonuses or stock buybacks to benefit shareholders.

Go deeper

Right-wingers making McCarthy sweat for future Speaker post

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy stands with his Republican colleagues outside the House on Nov. 17. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Right-wing elements in the Republican Party are complicating House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's attempts to become the next speaker of the House should the GOP take back the majority in 2022.

Why it matters: While McCarthy has worked carefully to build trust among the conservatives who tanked his chances at clinching the speakership in 2015, they're still circling ahead of the next Speaker vote in January 2023.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Congress sprints to meet crush of deadlines

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Congressional leaders have been pushing off vital action for months — and a lot of it will catch up with them in December, which begins Wednesday.

Driving the news: Funding for the federal government is set to expire at midnight on Friday. There are also consequential deadlines related to the debt limit, President Biden's agenda and annual actions like voting on the National Defense Authorization Act.

3 hours ago - World

U.S. fears Iran won’t scale back to 2015 nuclear deal

Officials gather in Vienna on Sept. 29 for the first day of renewed nuclear talks with Iran. Photo: EU Vienna Delegation/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

U.S. officials have extremely low expectations as world powers resume negotiations with Iran to curb its nuclear program, believing the Iranians aren't yet ready to negotiate seriously, Axios is told.

Driving the news: Senior officials in the U.S. intelligence community have assessed the new Iranian president, Ebrahim Raisi, thinks of his predecessor, Hassan Rouhani, as a weak accommodationist who negotiated a bad deal with the U.S. and other world powers in 2015.

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