House to Vote Today on New COVID-19 Relief Proposal

December 21, 2020
Press Release
Blumenauer reiterates further need for targeted relief to local restaurants.

WASHINGTON, D.C.  – The U.S. House of Representatives will vote today on a new $900 billion COVID-19 relief package. The legislation would boost unemployment benefits by an additional $300 a week, provide $600 direct cash payments to most Americans, allocate $300 billion in aid for small businesses, and provide much-needed funding for schools, transportation, rental assistance, hospitals, and vaccine distribution in Oregon and across the country.

While Republicans in the Senate blocked the inclusion of a revitalization fund for independent restaurants, U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) secured several changes to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to improve the program for the nation’s 500,000 independent restaurants that were largely left out of the first tranche of funding.

“The bipartisan popularity of the RESTAURANTS Act underscored how inadequate the original PPP provisions were for meeting the unique needs of independent restaurants, the area of the economy hardest hit by the pandemic and that suffered the greatest number of job losses. This wide support for our bill, which passed the House and has more than fifty co-sponsors in the Senate, helped us secure some changes to address shortcomings in PPP,” Blumenauer said. “These changes include a larger loan amount available for hard-hit restaurants, expansions to forgivable expenses for restaurant-specific expenditures like supplier costs and perishable goods, PPE, and outdoor seating, and a simplified forgiveness process for smaller loans. But these changes are by no means adequate for the needs of our independent restaurants.”

Blumenauer stressed that his RESTAURANTS Act is still urgently needed to keep the majority of local, independent restaurants from going out of business.  

“For more than six months, we worked tirelessly to secure relief for independent restaurants, only to have Republicans slam the door on these small businesses and their workers in the final stage of negotiations. Make no mistake, modest changes to PPP will help, but they won’t remedy enough deficiencies in the program to meet the desperate needs facing local restaurants,” Blumenauer added. “These half a million restaurants, diners, coffee shops, and bars employ eleven million Americans and are the cornerstone of communities large and small. It is as irresponsible as it is heartless that Republicans rejected targeted aid. We need to immediately take this up with the new Congress and the Biden administration to deal with the serious shortcomings of the bill and save our restaurants.”

Full text of the COVID-19 relief bill that will be voted on today by the U.S. House of Representatives can be found here.