As Arizona Hits Record COVID-19 Numbers, McSally Introduces Bill Encouraging Vacations

illustration of person sitting on beach chair next to McSally with virus symbols

By Jessica Swarner

June 29, 2020

The goal of the bill isn’t to give Americans a relaxing time away from home — it’s to boost sales for tourism industries. 

Sen. Martha McSally of Arizona has not committed to supporting an extension of additional unemployment benefits past the end of next month. 

Instead, she is putting her weight behind a bill that incentivizes Americans to break quarantine and take a vacation. 

McSally introduced a bill Monday that would give the public tax breaks for traveling during a global pandemic. 

The credit would be worth up to $4,000 for individuals or $8,000 for joint filers, plus $500 per dependent child. To qualify for a tax break, purchases must be made more than 50 miles away from a person’s residence, and take place between Dec. 31, 2019, and Jan. 1, 2022.

An Economic Boost

The goal of the bill isn’t to give Americans a relaxing time away from home — it’s to boost sales for tourism industries. 

“The American TRIP Act is about getting more than 180,000 Arizonans and over 9 million Americans who are employed by the tourism and hospitality industries back to work,” McSally said in a press release. “If Americans aren’t traveling, then millions of other Americans have no job to go back to. That means millions of Americans are unable to provide for their families, including paying rent or a mortgage, health care costs, or buying groceries.”

But despite saying she wants to help Americans provide for their families, McSally has not said she will support extending additional weekly unemployment benefits past the end of July. 

RELATED: McSally Is Now Praising the Very Unemployment Benefits She Voted Against

McSally, who initially voted against the extra $600, has said she is on the fence about extending the additional benefits past next month. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whom McSally often sides with, has vowed to keep an extension out of the next relief bill although there is no end to the pandemic in sight. 

Critics of McSally’s bill say it will help wealthy Americans but do nothing for those with less. 

“Low and most middle-income families will receive no or minimal benefit as you can’t claim the maximum credit until you’re pretty well off,” explained Matthew Gardner, a senior fellow with the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.

Rather than a helpful economic boost, Gardner called the bill, “an invitation to tax avoidance.”

What About Safety? 

McSally’s bill encouraging travel comes at a time when other states are requiring incoming travelers from Arizona to isolate themselves for at least two weeks upon arrival. 

That’s because the state has seen skyrocketing COVID-19 cases, quickly rising to one of the worst-affected areas of the world. 

So far, one in every 150 Maricopa County residents has tested positive for the disease. And things are still getting worse – 36% of the county’s new cases were recorded in just the last week. 

RELATED: Ducey Admits The COVID Spread in AZ Is Going to Get Worse — Then Does Nothing

A Banner Health hospital in the Mesa activated its surge plan Friday, requiring ICU patients to be shuffled around in order to accommodate the high numbers.  

Gov. Doug Ducey, who has encouraged Arizonans to go out and patronize businesses during the pandemic, changed his tone at a briefing Thursday and advocated instead for staying home. 

Although McSally’s bill does include travel-related purchases made next year, it’s unclear when it will be safe for Americans to travel again.

Public health experts have said COVID-19 won’t truly be under control until a vaccine is developed, which could take 12 to 18 months at best.

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  • Jessica Swarner

    Jessica Swarner is the community editor for The Copper Courier. She is an ASU alumna and previously worked at KTAR News 92.3 FM in Phoenix.



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