- Two senators and two congressmen signed a letter Tuesday asking the Small Business Administration to update Congress on its plans to disburse $180 million in unallocated Restaurant Revitalization Fund money.
- Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (R, PA) and Earl Blumenauer (D, OR), and Sens. Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), signed the letter, which was endorsed by the National Restaurant Association and the Independent Restaurant Coalition.
- The legislators wrote in the letter it is “inexcusable” the SBA had not yet disbursed the money. The Government Accountability Office publicized the existence of the unallocated money in a July report.
Lawmakers also urged the SBA to aggressively collect funds that were awarded to ineligible or fraudulent recipients, and to then distribute any money recovered as quickly as possible.
“We request the SBA provide Congress with a detailed plan and timeline to distribute unobligated RRF funding as
well as detailed information regarding the agency’s progress in retrieving misallocated funds and distributing those
funds to eligible applicants no later than Monday, November 14, 2022,” the letter states.
While $180 million would fall far short of meeting the requests of the roughly 177,000 restaurants that applied for and received no RRF funds, the IRC and NRA emphasized in a press release emailed to Restaurant Dive the impact the allocation of unused funds could have for those restaurants.
“Distributing the remaining and recovered funds would be a ray of hope for many neighborhood restaurants and bars that have been on life support for more than two years. When restaurants close, our communities, local economies, and most of all, our workers lose jobs that provide unparalleled ladders of opportunity,” Erika Polmar, executive director of the IRC, said in the release.
Sean Kennedy, NRA executive vice president for public affairs, said the industry and lawmakers are concerned by the amount of time it has taken the SBA to distribute the unallocated funds following the GAO report.
“We’ve been asking the same questions since July. It’s imperative that the SBA steps up with answers and moves quickly to distribute the remaining funds to restaurants with pending applications,” Kennedy said.
The SBA did not respond to a request for comment.