Blumenauer Leads Bipartisan Lawmakers in Effort to Replenish Restaurant Revitalization Fund With $60 Billion in Additional Aid
WASHINGTON, D.C. – After more than 362,000 eligible businesses applied for nearly $75 billion in assistance from the $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund, a group of bipartisan, bicameral lawmakers are today introducing new legislation to replenish the federal relief program with $60 billion in additional funds for restaurants hurt by the pandemic. The Restaurant Revitalization Fund Replenishment Act – led by U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), US. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), and U.S. Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) – would not only cover all existing applications to the highly popular pandemic relief program but also allow the Small Business Administration to continue its outreach to hard-to-reach businesses and communities.
“While it appears that our work to prioritize restaurants most in need was successful in the first round, the extraordinary demand for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund shows that many more businesses still desperately need help,” Blumenauer said. “We must work quickly to replenish this critical relief program and ensure all local restaurants get the support needed to keep their doors open, pay their staff, and support the industry’s trillion-dollar supply chain that impacts every sector of our economy.”
“Arizona restaurants fuel jobs across our state, and these employers need support now more than ever. Our Restaurant Rescue Plan is getting Arizonans back to work and ensuring local Arizona restaurants can keep their doors open, and more resources are needed as we continue fueling a full economic recovery,” said Sinema.
“The Restaurant Revitalization Fund provided a lifeline for America’s small and independent restaurants,” Wicker said. “Our restaurants are now beginning to recover from a year of lost revenue, but many establishments are still hurting and have not been able to access aid for which they are eligible. Replenishing this fund would help restaurants, their staff, and the broader food supply chain as they continue to get back on their feet.”
“The Restaurant Revitalization Fund is a vital, financial lifeline for our independent, local restaurants that were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Fitzpatrick. “Due to the overwhelming demand for relief, Congress must work together on a bipartisan basis to replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund as soon as possible. The mom and pop diners and delis on Main Street all across America still need our help, and we must act urgently to save our local restaurants."
The Restaurant Revitalization Fund was enacted as part of the American Rescue Plan Act. It provided $28.6 billion in grants to help restaurants, bars, food trucks, caterers, tasting rooms, and taprooms recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Within three weeks of the program’s opening, SBA received more than 362,000 applications requesting more than $75 billion in funding – nearly triple the available funding – leaving nearly $50 billion in outstanding need. Now, the lawmakers are working to quickly pass the Restaurant Revitalization Fund Replenishment Act to ensure that all eligible restaurants can get the help they need.
The U.S. restaurant industry has suffered a quarter of all job losses during the pandemic and restaurants and bars have lost more than $280 billion in sales. More than 90,000 restaurants have permanently closed, while hundreds of thousands more have significantly scaled down their operations. Even with months of positive job growth, restaurant and bars are still nearly one million jobs below their pre-pandemic averages. Dining restrictions remain in more than 20 states and consumer hesitancy threatens to prolong the hardship with 36% of diners saying they won’t resume their regular dining behavior until at least after September 2021.
Replenishing the Restaurant Revitalization Fund is critical to ensuring the survival of tens of thousands of restaurants and bars across the country.
The Restaurant Revitalization Fund Replenishment Act is endorsed by the Independent Restaurant Coalition, the National Restaurant Association, the Brewer's Association, Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, the James Beard Foundation, Beer Institute, Wine Institute, and WineAmerica.
Full text of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund Replenishment Act is available here.