Could More Free Money Be Coming to Restaurants?
The House passed a $55 billion bill on Thursday to provide assistance to restaurants that were not successful in receiving help from the federal Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) last year. In a 223-203 House vote the measure was approved by lawmakers and was backed by only a few Republicans.
Over $40 billion in COVID-19 assistance was approved, replenishing the fund. An additional $13 billion would be provided for other businesses that remain struggling to recover.
The Restaurant Revitalization Fund was established under the American Rescue Plan, and signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 11, 2021 which issued $28.6 billion in direct relief funds. However, three weeks after launching, the funds ran out leaving only a third to receive relief funding out of 300,000 applicants.
Recipients are not required to repay the funding as long as funds are used for eligible uses no later than March 11, 2023.
If the bill passes the Senate, the 177,000 restaurants that were approved for RRF grants but did not receive funding before the portal closed are already in line as stated by legislators.
To overcome the 60-vote threshold to end a potential prolonged debate and pass the measure, it is undetermined whether Democrats in the evenly split Senate will be able to win over at least 10 Republicans.
Despite protocols of the pandemic being lifted, restaurants are still facing the negative effects with less staff and fewer customers. According to the National Restaurant Association, 9 in 10 restaurants have fewer than 50 employees and restaurant industry sales in 2021 are down by $65 billion from 2019’s pre-pandemic levels.
The main sponsor of the bill, Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., and Rep. Dean Phillips, cited a survey from the Independent Restaurant Coalition and stated that over 80 percent of restaurants that didn’t receive grants have reported that they are on the verge of permanent closure.Last modified: April 11, 2022
Larissa Brulato writes for deBanked. Connect with me on LinkedIn.