‘Retain All Records’ Through January, Congress Instructs Travel Companies

Jan 15, 2021
In The News

The U.S. House Oversight Committee is calling upon some of the country’s largest travel companies to be eyes and ears in the fight against domestic terrorism in the run-up to the Presidential Inauguration on January 20.

“The Committee is writing to request your company’s assistance in identifying and preventing the ongoing and extreme threat of further violent attacks in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere, over the coming days,” wrote committee chairwoman Rep. Carolyn Maloney.

Letters were sent to more than two dozen travel companies, including nine bus companies (Greyhound, Megabus, BoltBus, Lux Bus America, Vamoose, Jefferson Lines, Peter Pan, Flixbus and RedCoach); eight car rental companies (Enterprise, Hertz, Avis, National, Alamo, Budget. Dollar and Thrifty); and 10 hotel and lodging groups (Expedia, Intercontinental Hotels Group, Accor Group, Hyatt, Hilton, Choice Hotels, Marriott, Best Western International, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts and Extended Stay America)

“Alarmingly, the FBI has now warned that there are ongoing threats of continued violence and armed attacks in Washington, D.C., and around the country, through Inauguration Day, including calls by white supremacist groups for a ‘Million Militia March’ on January 20, 2021,” wrote Maloney, noting that Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has urged Americans to stay away from the nation’s capital until after the inauguration because of the threat of violence.

The committee is asking the travel companies to “retain all records” regarding reservations and services for the entire month of January “for potential use, if necessary, in future law enforcement or Congressional investigations.”

Congress is also instructing these companies to “produce to the Committee by January 29, 2021, all company policies and procedures currently in place or being developed to ensure that your services are not used to facilitate violence or domestic terrorism,” according to the letters.

Maloney ends the letter by reminding travel companies that the committee has broad authority to investigate “any matter” at “any time” under House Rule X.

Earlier this week, Airbnb canceled all vacation rental reservations in the Washingon, DC metro area through the inauguration period. Airbnb guests will be refunded in full for down payments and Airbnb hosts will be reimbursed for their losses.

In addition, the Department of Homeland Security has declared a National Special Security Event (NSSE) period in place through Sunday, January 24, due to multiple threats of insurrection and violence. A NSSE designation allows the U.S. Secret Service, the FBI and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to work together to secure areas that may be targets.

In practical terms for visitors, all of this means a prolonged period of many blocked streets, barricaded areas and an amplified police presence, as well as closures for some top attractions, including the Washington Monument and other venues on the National Mall. A seven-foot-tall non-scalable fence erected around the U.S. Capitol is expected to stay there for a month.