(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship Chair Ben Cardin (D-Md.) today issued the following statement on the status of bipartisan legislation to replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF):
“I am gravely disappointed that the omnibus spending package that will be considered this week will not include additional assistance for small business and that we are missing our best opportunity to date to extend a final relief installment to the restaurant industry,” Cardin said. “For the last two years of the pandemic, nearly all restaurants have been under great strain as they have struggled to keep staff, pivoted to outdoor, delivery or pickup arrangements, and faced increased prices due to supply chain disruptions and inflation. And those have been the restaurants fortunate to survive the pandemic; thousands have closed their doors for good.”
Last August, Cardin and Senators Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) introduced bipartisan legislation to provide additional funding to RRF.
The program was created in March 2021 as part of the American Rescue Plan and provided a $28.6 billion appropriation to provide eligible entities with grants equal to their pandemic-related revenue loss up to $10 million and no more than $5 million per location. On June 30, 2021, the Small Business Administration (SBA) announced the closure of RRF due to the exhaustion of funds. SBA also announced that more than 278,000 applications were submitted to the program, but the agency was only able to fund approximately 101,000 of them.
Cardin continued, “Had Congress not acted quickly to replenish the Paycheck Protection Program when it ran out of money weeks after it opened, the program would today be remembered as a half-measure. Instead, we extended the emergency aid needed to meet the crisis we faced, and that is exactly what must be done again.”“I am grateful for the support of Majority Leader Chuck Schumer in pushing for this assistance and will continue to work with him, my Republican colleagues that support this effort, and the Biden administration to advance this issue forward.”