Sen. Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerOvernight Health Care: FDA withdraws emergency use authorization for hydroxychloroquine | Surging coronavirus cases raise fears of new lockdowns | Trump on coronavirus: ‘If we stop testing right now, we’d have very few cases, if any’Hillicon Valley: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos open to testifying before Congress | Former eBay staffers charged with aggressively cyberstalking couple behind critical newsletter | Senators call for making telehealth expansion permanent after COVID-19Bipartisan senators call for making telehealth expansion permanent post-coronavirusMORE (R-Miss.) and Rep. Earl BlumenauerEarl BlumenauerOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Dems press Trump consumer safety nominee on chemical issues | Lawmakers weigh how to help struggling energy industry | 180 Democrats ask House leadership for clean energy assistance180 Democrats ask House leadership for clean energy assistancePass the Primary Care Enhancement ActMORE (D-Ore.) introduced legislation on Thursday to establish a $120 billon fund for independent food service or drinking establishments devastated from the coronavirus pandemic.
The bill, dubbed the RESTAURANTS Act (Real Economic Support that Acknowledges Unique Restaurant Assistance Needed to Survive), would provide grants to restaurants that are not publicly traded and have $1.5 million or less in revenue under normal circumstances.
The grant can be used to cover payroll, benefits, mortgage, rent, protective equipment, food, or other costs. It provides an addition or substitute to loans provided through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which Congress passed in the $2.2 coronavirus relief package in March, for restaurants to spend more on overhead costs, as well as payroll.
We found early in this crisis that the PPP program designed for small businesses didnt work for the businesses most impacted. Not just impacted, but devastated restaurants, Blumenauer said on a call with reporters on Thursday.
He noted that independent restaurant revenue has been 51 percent lower than last years levels due to the coronavirus pandemic.
When our restaurants are hurting, it means the economy is hurting, Blumenauer said.
Wicker said on the call that the White House supports the legislation as well as Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamClyburn: ‘May be possible’ to close the Charleston loophole in a police reform billThis week: Lawmakers look to advance police reform billsSkepticism looms over police reform dealMORE (R-S.C.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsStronger patent rights would help promote US technological leadershipIn the next COVID-19 bill, target innovation and entrepreneurshipSkepticism looms over police reform dealMORE (D-Del.), and Doug Jones (D-Ala.).
The lawmakers joined with the Independent Restaurant Coalition (IRC) to unveil the legislation. The IRC was formed in March and its leadership team includes celebrity chef José Andrés.
The announcement comes after the IRC urged Congress to create a $120 billion stabilization fund in April, which was met with criticism from the National Restaurant Association and the International Franchise Association because conditions of the relief include that funds approved by Congress cannot be granted to any publicly traded restaurant.
Wicker mentioned on the call that the National Restaurants Association was involved with this legislation.
I can say that we brought this together with the National Restaurants Association. Were on the same page with regards to this proposal, Wicker said.
The National Restaurant Association released a statement on Thursday that it is pleased with the bill because it reflects their proposal to Congress sent on March 18, which called for a $240 billion recovery fund for restaurants.
The introduction of this bill provides hope of survival for small business restaurant owners from the smallest towns to the broadest urban streets. It will help these struggling businesses, regardless of the sign on the door, who are still facing a difficult and uncertain future, Sean Kennedy, executive vice president of public affairs, said in a statement.