UPDATE: Feb. 9, 2020: The House Committee on Small Business released its draft stimulus bill on Sunday, which includes $25 billion in restaurant grants and $7.25 billion more allocated to the Paycheck Protection Program. House committees are currently evaluating portions of the proposed stimulus provisions that will be a part of the official aid package, which will probably be voted on at the close of February, Business Insider reports.
Here are the details of the $25 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund:
- $5 billion is allocated for businesses with less than $500,000 in 2019 annual revenue
- During the first three weeks, applications from restaurants owned and operated by women, veterans, or socially and economically disadvantaged individuals will be prioritized
- Restaurants can apply for grants of up to $10 million, with a cap of $5 million per physical location. Entities are limited to 20 locations
- Grants are calculated by subtracting 2020 revenue from 2019 revenue
- Grants can be used to cover a variety of costs, including payroll, mortgage, rent, utilities, supplies, food and beverage costs, paid sick leave and operational expenses.
- A $1.9 trillion budget resolution proposal introduced by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer Monday includes a $25 billion grant program specifically for independent restaurants, Mother Jones reports. Details of this specific resolution have not been made public.
- The publication suggests that while this proposal is less than the $120 billion grant fund sought via the proposed Restaurants Act, the fund could be refilled multiple times like the Paycheck Protection Program. The proposed grant fund exceeds President Joe Biden's proposed $15 billion in grants for small businesses impacted by the pandemic as part of his $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan.
- The budget resolution could make it possible for Congressional Democrats to pass Biden's COVID-19 relief plan without Republican support. The budget summary does not include a provision that would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, which is included in Biden's package, CBS News reports.
Both the Independent Restaurant Coalition and the National Restaurant Association have expressed their support of the budget's proposed $25 billion restaurant grant program.
"By proposing a grant program for the industry, Congress is doing everything they can to ensure independent restaurants and bars can continue to employ 11 million people," IRC said in an emailed statement. "Funding an independent restaurant revitalization fund would be a ray of hope for so many neighborhood businesses that are on life support this winter."
This line item reflects Biden's support for providing grants rather than loans for restaurants. During an economic roundtable in December, he said that the restaurant industry "affects the ability of the economy to continue to grow."
There are multiple pieces of legislation geared toward restaurant industry support, and broader small business support, that are still up in the air. Industry organizations have made clear, however, that restaurants need targeted aid to survive as the pandemic stretches on. The restaurant segment was predicted to provide 12.3 million jobs in 2020 but ended last year with 9.8 million jobs — 2.5 million fewer jobs than pre-pandemic levels, according to the NRA.
"We look forward to seeing the full proposal from congressional leaders and appreciate that our industry remains in the forefront of discussion," NRA said about the budget proposal in an emailed statement.
Correction: In a previous version of this article, the amount of money allocated for the Payment Protection Program in The House Committee on Small Business draft stimulus bill was misstated. The bill earmarks $7.25 billion for the program.