The House of Representatives just approved a bill to replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF). We appreciate the leadership of Representatives Dean Philips (D-MN) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) in bringing this bill to the House floor.
All eyes now turn to the Senate. This week, Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) introduced the Small Business COVID Relief Act, a measure that includes a provision replenishing the RRF. We believe this bill could be considered on the Senate floor later this month or in early May.
There was a spirited debate on the House floor on whether the RRF should be replenished by spending “new” federal dollars (thus increasing the federal budget deficit), or by reallocating existing federal dollars. As you’d expect, drawing money down from a different federal account creates winners and losers, and it has proven difficult for Congress to reach bipartisan agreement on how to approach this.
The pandemic-related shutdown of indoor dining was a natural disaster for our industry. The RRF was originally funded as emergency spending, no different from a hurricane or flood. We are not seeking a second round of RRF grants, we are simply seeking basic fairness for the 177,000 restaurants that are still waiting for relief.
The path to securing 60 votes in the Senate is very uncertain, and the debate on how to fund replenishment is the largest challenge we see. We will continue to press with the facts, with our economic analysis, and with your stories.