Craig, Phillips Lead Minnesota Legislators in Urging Congress to Provide Direct Financial Support to Restaurants

February 5, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, House Small Business Committee Members Angie Craig and Dean Phillips were joined by Rep. Betty McCollum, and U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith in urging Congressional leaders to include direct financial support to restaurants in the upcoming COVID-19 relief package or as a standalone bill. In a letter addressed to Congressional leaders in both parties, the lawmakers called for a targeted grant relief program, as outlined in the RESTAURANTS Act, to be made a top priority in future negotiations.  

“Restaurants are the beating heart of every community, but the COVID-19 pandemic is putting the survival of America’s 500,000 independent restaurants and their 11 million employees in jeopardy every single day,” the lawmakers wrote. “Since the pandemic upended American life, thousands of local restaurants have been forced to close their doors. Many of these businesses face an uncertain future.”

“We need to get Minnesota’s restaurants targeted relief as quickly as possible, whether by way of a larger relief package or by passing the RESTAURANTS Act of 2021 immediately. Our constituents and communities cannot wait any longer,” the members continued. 

By some estimates, roughly 1 in 12 private sector workers in the United States were employed by the restaurant industry – a sector that has been decimated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis. In April of 2020 alone, more than 5 million restaurant workers lost their jobs, accounting for more than a quarter of total job losses nationwide that month. In their letter, lawmakers urged Congressional leaders to extend a financial lifeline to the struggling industry which would also assist adjacent sectors dependent on the restaurant supply chain. 

In the 116th Congress, the RESTAURANTS Act, which would create a $120 billion restaurant revitalization fund in support of struggling businesses, passed in the House of Representatives as part of the Updated Heroes Act. The legislation was never brought up for a vote in the Senate, leaving countless restaurants in Minnesota and across the country without access to desperately needed relief. 

A full copy of the letter is available here and below: 

Dear Speaker Pelosi, Leader Schumer, Leader McConnell and Leader McCarthy:

As you continue your negotiations on the American Rescue Plan and independent COVID-related bills, it is critical that we include grants to restaurants modeled after existing legislation such as the RESTAURANTS Act of 2021.

We are quickly approaching the one-year mark since the COVID-19 pandemic drastically changed American life and left millions of Americans without jobs and small businesses with unprecedented financial challenges. While we have provided critical assistance to small businesses through various programs such as the Paycheck Protection Program, there is a need for additional targeted assistance for those businesses most impacted by the pandemic. 

Restaurants are the beating heart of every community, but the COVID-19 pandemic is putting the survival of America’s 500,000 independent restaurants and their 11 million employees in jeopardy every single day. Since the pandemic upended American life, thousands of local restaurants have been forced to close their doors. Many of these businesses face an uncertain future. From family farmers in Goodhue County to restaurants in the heart of Minneapolis –  every link in the restaurant supply chain is affected.

We commend you for the intention to include a grant program for restaurants in the recently filed joint budget resolution for Fiscal Year 2021; however, we ask that this grant relief program remain a top priority as negotiations take place. 

We need to get Minnesota’s restaurants targeted relief as quickly as possible, whether by way of a larger relief package or by passing the RESTAURANTS Act of 2021 immediately. Our constituents and communities cannot wait any longer. 

Thank you for your consideration of our request. We look forward to partnering with you to save independent restaurants in Minnesota and all across America.

Sincerely,

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