Independent Restaurant Coalition Urges Swift Passage of Bipartisan Restaurant Relief Package Included in New COVID-19 Bill IRC’s RESTAURANTS Act Included in New COVID-19 Relief Legislation Days After Bill Crosses Key 200 Cosponsor Threshold, Would Provide $120 Billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund

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The Inclusion Of The RESTAURANTS Act In COVID-19 Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the Independent Restaurant Coalition (IRC), released the following statement regarding the inclusion of the RESTAURANTS Act in the House of Representatives’ latest federal aid proposal:

 

“Congress must quickly pass this COVID-19 relief proposal and give America's 500,000 independent restaurants a fighting chance to survive,” said the Independent Restaurant Coalition. “By including the RESTAURANTS Act, the revised version of the HEROES Act is the best plan Congress has put forward to protect the livelihoods of the 11 million people employed by independent restaurants across the country. Independent restaurants are out of options, and by providing flexible grants based on revenue losses to independent restaurants who need them, Congress can ensure many businesses have a shot at surviving colder weather and getting through the pandemic. 

“We are so grateful to Speaker Pelosi for prioritizing independent restaurants in this new proposal, and for the tireless leadership of RESTAURANTS Act sponsor Congressman Blumenauer (D-OR) and lead cosponsor Congressman Fitzpatrick (R-PA), who have spearheaded efforts to pass this bill since June. Their colleagues in the House must pass this COVID-19 relief bill as soon as possible, and the Senate must follow suit.”

 

A $120 Billion Grant Program For Independent Restaurants

If signed into law, Division O Section 607 of the new COVID-19 relief plan would establish a $120 billion grant program for independent restaurants and bars to cover costs such as payroll, rent, supplies, and PPE. The program would be run by the U.S. Treasury. Eligible establishments include restaurants, food stands, food trucks, food carts, caterers, saloons, inns, taverns, and bars. In its first two weeks of operation, grants would be prioritized for establishments owned by members of marginalized and underrepresented communities, with a focus on women and minority-owned and operated entities. Priority would also be given to establishments with annual revenues of less than $1,500,000.

As of today, the RESTAURANTS Act has secured over 200 House cosponsors, and continues to grow support in the Senate, with 13 senators signing on in the past month alone. Originally introduced in June by Sens. Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), alongside Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR 3) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA 1), the RESTAURANTS Act now has a total of 203 cosponsors in the House and 40 cosponsors in the Senate.

Last week, a House Ways and Means Committee hearing witness said “we need things like the RESTAURANTS Act to really continue to help [the workers] survive and help the business survive.” Also last week, Secretary Mnuchin told a Senate panel that Congress must consider “additional funds that are highly targeted” for “the restaurant and broader hospitality industries.” Recently, Speaker Pelosi urged Congress to consider the bill, calling the RESTAURANTS Act “very important to do.”

Formed in March, the IRC quickly mobilized and sent a letter to Congress on April 29 calling for the passage of a revitalization fund for the industry. The letter was cosigned by thousands of restaurateurs and prominent chefs, including José Andrés, Nina Compton, Rosa Garcia, Naomi Pomeroy, Andrew Zimmern.