Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi filed a 2021 joint budget resolution on Monday to provide “urgently needed” funding for COVID-19 relief through Pres. Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. The joint budget resolution offers instructions to relevant Congressional committees like providing “additional relief for nation’s small businesses and hard-hit industries” including “a dedicated grant relief program for restaurants” totaling $25 billion, along with other plans to help save entertainment and cultural institutions.
The proposed $25 billion restaurant recovery fund is largely based on the original RESTAURANTS Act proposal, which passed the Democrat-controlled House in October but was not considered in the then-Republican-controlled Senate.
“The announcement from Majority Leader Schumer and Speaker Pelosi of a $25 billion restaurant recovery fund has the potential to be a game-changer for tens of thousands of restaurants on the verge of closing,” National Restaurant Association executive vice president of public affairs Sean Kennedy said in a statement. “2020 ended with the industry slipping into a double-dip recession and losing nearly 400,000 jobs, highlighting the unique challenges restaurant owners and our employees are still facing.”
The original RESTAURANTS Act passed by the House in October was a part of the $2.2 trillion HEROES Act (a scaled-down version of the original $3.4 trillion HEROES Act initially introduced in May 2020) and included $120 billion in grant relief for restaurants. The bill specifically targeted "marginalized and underrepresented communities" like female and minority-owned businesses. Originally, grants would be rewarded based on “the difference between the business’s 2019 revenues and estimated 2020 revenues for each quarter,” with priority given to smaller businesses, though the exact text is likely to be updated in a 2021 version of the restaurant relief program.
Restaurant Hospitality contacted the bill’s original author Rep. Earl Francis Blumenauer (D-Or.) for further information on the newly proposed restaurant relief program but did not receive a response in time for publication.
“This is the first step in giving Congress the additional legislative tools to quickly pass COVID relief,” Senate Majority Leader Schumer said Tuesday on the Senate floor. “It will provide instructions to begin work on potential budget reconciliation bill. There is nothing in this process that would preclude it from being bipartisan. […] The only thing we cannot accept is a package too small or too narrow to pull this country out of this emergency. We must act very soon.”
Contact Joanna Fantozzi at [email protected]
Follow her on Twitter: @JoannaFantozzi