House Democrats recently passed legislation to help small businesses as they continue to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
On April 7, Washington lawmakers sent to the U.S. Senate the Relief for Restaurants and other Hard Hit Small Businesses Act of 2022. The proposed law would provide an additional $42 billion in funding nationwide for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) established by the American Rescue Plan (ARP).
The bill includes $13 billion to support small businesses with 200 or fewer employees that experienced major revenue losses due to the pandemic, and updates ARP’s grant program for music and entertainment venues.
“New Jersey restaurants and mom and pop shops are the lifeblood of our economy, but these businesses have had to make extraordinary sacrifices since March 2020,” said Rep. Tom Malinowski. “Congress is standing up to keep doors open at our favorite local restaurants and shops, and for the millions of workers these businesses employ.”
The RRF was based on the RESTAURANTS Act, cosponsored by Malinowski, to provide dining establishments with funding equal to their pandemic-related revenue losses up to $10 million per business and no more than $5 million per physical location.
Supporters of the bill argued the federal program will help ensure that the more than 170,000 eligible restaurants that applied for RRF funding but could not access support due to oversubscription will now have access to funding to keep their workers employed, serve American communities, and continue to power an economic recovery.
“Few industries have been hit hardest during the pandemic than the food and beverage industry,” said Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr, who voted for the legislation. “This bill will help hundreds of thousands of restaurants continue to serve customers and pay their employees nationwide.”
In New Jersey, Payne, Jr. said more than 3,000 local restaurants and small businesses get more than $920 million in assistance to help restaurants and food and beverage businesses pay bills and employees during the coronavirus pandemic.
Small Business Focus
The bill would provide $13 billion to establish the Hard Hit Industries Award Program, administered by the Small Business Administration as well. The program would assist small businesses with a maximum of 200 employees that lost 40% or more of their revenue due to the pandemic, but were not eligible for other grants nor awards.
Additionally, the bill extends the deadline for small businesses to use grant funding. Part of the additional funding for the RRF would come from money reclaimed, seized or returned from other businesses that attempted to defraud prior small business pandemic relief funds, including the Paycheck Protection Program.
“Many restaurants are family-owned small businesses that have been passed down through generations. We must do everything we can to support these small businesses until our economy recovers,” said Payne.