Congressman presses for up to $120 billion in targeted aid to industry ‘crushed’ by pandemic
Congressman Brian Higgins, D-NY-26, is pressing congressional leaders to make sure direct relief to restaurants is included in the next COVID-19 relief package.
In a letter to House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Higgins wrote, “The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and other aid programs have helped local businesses navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, but restaurants have a unique funding structure and require a fund of their own. In order to provide restaurants, bars, and the hospitality industry the assistance they desperately need, we must pass the RESTAURANTS Act expeditiously, either in the next COVID-19 relief package or as a stand-alone bill.”
According to the Independent Restaurant Coalition, 16 million American jobs are supported through the restaurant industry. Locally, restaurant industry job losses were more than 26% from December 2019 to 2020, the highest of any other industry. Moreover, restaurants were recently shutdown for several weeks and are still limited to 50% capacity and reduced hours.
In his letter, Higgins pointed out, “Restaurant revenues have decreased by 40%, while expenses have remained level and in some cases increased due to items like personal protective equipment and outdoor dining adaptations. 372,000 restaurant jobs were lost last month alone according to the December 2020 jobs report.”
Higgins was a cosponsor of the RESTAURANTS Act Led by Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon. The bipartisan legislation, introduced in the last Congress and scheduled to be reintroduced again soon, would establish a $120 billion grant program as a lifeline to restaurants. Higgins also recently wrote to the Biden administration suggesting the president’s relief plan should incorporate direct assistance for restaurants.
“We have this opportunity to protect restaurants, places around which our community, traditions and cultures are centered. We must seize it before it is too late,” Higgins stated.