U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) last week proposed bipartisan, bicameral legislation that would authorize a $120 billion restaurant revitalization fund to support the nation’s independent restaurants impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The coronavirus pandemic continues to threaten millions of jobs supported by America’s small and independent restaurants,” Sen. Wicker said. “These small businesses are hurting because of the costs of restocking perishable foods, retooling their operations, and they still cannot operate at full capacity even as the country reopens.”

Sen. Wicker on June 18 sponsored the Real Economic Support That Acknowledges Unique Restaurant Assistance Needed To Survive (RESTAURANTS) Act of 2020, S. 4012, with lead cosponsor U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), while Rep. Fitzpatrick on June 15 cosponsored the same-named H.R. 7197 with bill sponsor U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR).

Sen. Wicker noted that the bill “would save many of these businesses, benefiting their workers and the farmers, fishermen, distributors, and truckers that rely on them.”

In fact, according to a study from the Independent Restaurant Coalition, 85 percent of independent restaurants may close by the end of the year if direct aid is not provided to the industry.

If enacted, the authorized fund would generate at least $183 billion in primary benefits and $65 billion in secondary benefits, according to information provided by the lawmakers.

“Our independent, local restaurants have been hit especially hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Forced to operate through takeout and delivery only, many family-operated restaurants in my community have lost thousands of dollars in potential income,” Rep. Fitzpatrick said, pointing out that the mom and pop diner and deli on Main Streets across America need federal support as soon as possible.

“Without immediate help, these local businesses and their hardworking employees will be suffering from the economic impact of this pandemic for years to come,” said Rep. Fitzpatrick.

The legislation is supported by the Independent Restaurant Coalition and the National Restaurant Association.