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Congressman cosponsors legislation providing $60 billion to replenish program
As dedicated federal restaurant relief runs out, Congressman Brian Higgins is calling on Congress to move quickly to save jobs and prevent restaurants from having to close their doors. Higgins is cosponsoring the Restaurant Revitalization Fund Replenishment Act (H.R. 3807). The bipartisan legislation introduced in both the House and Senate would provide $60 billion in additional funding to fill the remaining need.
Congress authorized $28.6 billion for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund through the American Rescue Plan. Last week, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced the program exhausted its funding and is now closed. The SBA received over 370,000 applications, but was only able to provide relief to 105,000 restaurants. Higgins expressed frustration with the SBA’s management of the program, including “the decision to leave hundreds of thousands of eligible restaurants without relief rather than reducing awards to ensure a greater number of smaller businesses received assistance.”
He said, “The last year has been a very long, difficult one for restaurants. The purpose of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund was to alleviate the financial stress caused by the pandemic and keep restaurants open and their employees working. We’ve heard from local restaurants frustrated with program complications, which have prevented eligible applicants from getting the resources they desperately need. We can’t leave these small businesses and staples in our community behind.”
Higgins has been a supporter of federal restaurant relief, meeting with local restaurant owners to hear about their struggles during the height of the pandemic, pushing to include funding in the COVID-19 relief package and joining forces with the Small Business Development Center in Buffalo and Niagara Falls to offer virtual workshops to help Western New York restaurants prepare for the application process.
According to SBA’s Restaurant Revitalization Fund program guide, restaurants were eligible to receive between $1,000 and $5 million to help cover payroll, utility bills, rent/mortgage payments, food, supplies, construction of outdoor seating and other operating expenses.