The US Senate could vote this week on whether or not to replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF).
If passed, the RRF would provide billions in grant funding to restaurants and other small businesses that have been negatively impacted and continue to be affected by the COVID pandemic.
Restaurant Revitalization Fund was originally established when the American Rescue Plan Act was created and funded. According to information from the National Restaurant Association, more than 278,000 restaurants received $28.6 billion in aid with the first tranche of payments.
The Senate is about to vote on whether or not to debate the issue. If it gets the 60 votes it needs to open the floor for debate, the Senate could vote up or down this small business support bill by the end of the week.
Senate could consider restaurant revitalization fund this week
RRF could provide additional $48 billion for restaurants and other businesses. This money would go to the thousands of original RRF applicants who got no response when this fund was first introduced during the pandemic. The money just ran out.
In addition to the companies that could wait for this money to be deposited back into the RRF, the way the account is written would also make money for other companies.
Passage is not certain
This suggested spend isn’t unanimously supported, at least not how it’s written. While Democrats in Congress argue that RRF needs emergency spending, Republicans say money for this program should be taken from other unspent COVID aid money that has already been approved.
The Democrats believe the money should be allocated because the first round of funding did not cover everyone who qualified and applied.
Of the proposed $48 billion, the bulk would go to companies that had previously applied for RRF funds. The rest would be opened to businesses such as event centers and gyms, businesses most affected by government shutdowns during the pandemic.
House bill accepted in April
The House of Representatives approved RRF in April. It was originally designed to help restaurants and other businesses that were hit hard, such as theaters and transportation companies.
It was also intended to cover any grants that restaurant and restaurant owners applied for in the first round of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund last May.
The new legislation had introduced stricter audit requirements.
Advocating for restaurants
National Restaurant Association states that the RRF should be replenished immediately. It released a survey in January stating that the first round of RRF funding has saved 900,000 jobs. The study also revealed how badly the restaurant industry was hit by the Omicron variant.
The numbers show that 88% of the restaurants that responded experienced a drop in demand for indoor food. And 74% of respondents said the pandemic had made their restaurants less profitable. The survey included a letter to Congress that included the following:
“The new data shows that restaurant recovery is crippled and far from complete. The hospitality industry is at a turning point. We need your leadership now more than ever. Congress must act now to complement the RRF in the forthcoming legislative package to fund the government.”
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