Blumenauer Leads 165 Lawmakers in Urging Biden Administration to Support Restaurant Revitalization Fund Replenishment

November 22, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) is leading 165 lawmakers in urging the Biden administration to support and advocate for the swift replenishment of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF).

Blumenauer authored the RESTAURANTS Act in 2020 that created the RRF, providing $28.6 billion to more than 101,000 restaurants across America with desperately needed relief.

“Despite the program’s success for many, more than 177,000 food and beverage establishments applied for nearly $44 billion in funding but received nothing. This disparity has resulted in small businesses next door to each other with drastically different financial situations solely because of the federal government’s inability to fully fund the RRF,” the lawmakers wrote to President Biden. 

“These entities are the beating heart of every community, but the COVID-19 pandemic continues to put the survival of these small businesses on the line every day,” they continued. “Restaurants are still down nearly one million jobs or about 8% below pre-pandemic levels, which is double national employment levels, and roughly one-third of the country is under some form of a dining restriction. Simply put, thousands of restaurants and bars will not survive the winter unless we replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.” 

Following the success of the program and the continued demand for assistance, Blumenauer introduced the Restaurant Revitalization Fund Replenishment Act, which would not only cover all existing applications, but help hard-to-reach businesses and communities apply.

Full text of the lawmakers’ letter is available here and follows below. 

 

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Dear President Biden, 

We write to respectfully urge you to support and advocate for the swift replenishment of the Small Business Administration’s Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) in any moving legislative vehicle Congress considers this year. 

Nearly $28.6 billion of economic relief was provided to more than 101,000 restaurants in every community across the country in the American Rescue Plan Act (Pub. L. 117-2). Critically, the Small Business Administration (SBA) prioritized small and medium-sized businesses, with more than half of the RRF grants totaling fewer than $150,000. These grants kept businesses open, people employed, and families stable. 

Despite the program’s success for many, more than 177,000 food and beverage establishments applied for nearly $44 billion in funding but received nothing. This disparity has resulted in small businesses next door to each other with drastically different financial situations solely because of the federal government’s inability to fully fund the RRF.  

These entities are the beating heart of every community, but the COVID-19 pandemic continues to put the survival of these small businesses on the line every day. In August, employment in food and beverage establishments fell by 41,500. In September, employment was stagnant. Restaurant and bar employment is still down 930,500 jobs since the start of the pandemic and more than 90,000 restaurants and bars have closed. These months were the first downturn for the industry in eight months and will only get worse as the weather gets colder and outdoor dining becomes impossible in much of the country. Restaurants are still down nearly one million jobs or about 8% below pre-pandemic levels, which is double national employment levels, and roughly one-third of the country is under some form of a dining restriction. Simply put, thousands of restaurants and bars will not survive the winter unless we replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. 

Legislation in the House of Representatives (H.R. 3807) to replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund with $60 billion has attracted the cosponsorship of more than half the House. Companion legislation in the Senate (S. 2675) is also widely supported. 

We have the opportunity to ensure these small businesses get the relief they need by replenishing this program to meet the current need. We need your support and leadership to finish the job in any moving legislative vehicle. We look forward to partnering with you on this important issue.