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Phillips leads House in passing support for restaurants and small businesses wronged by previous relief programs

Phillips to Congress: Stop picking winners and losers and make good on your promise to small business owners

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Rep. Dean Phillips (MN-03) led the House of Representatives in passing H.R. 3807, the Relief for Restaurants and Other Hard-Hit Industries Act with bipartisan support (223-203). The vote is a culmination of an eight-month effort by Phillips and entrepreneurs, who have been working together to replenish targeted relief for industries that rely on people gathering after demand far exceeded resources of the original programs.  

The legislation is paid for in part by clawing-back money from fraudulently-obtained Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans.

In a speech before the vote today, Phillips, who chairs the House Small Business Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Regulations, challenged colleagues who took loans for their own businesses to do the right thing for American entrepreneurs who were locked out of relief.

Remarks as prepared: 

There are 300 Republicans and Democrats in this Congress on bills to replenish the RRF.

There are 177,000 small restaurants and cafes, and millions of owners, operators, and employees – in my district and in yours - who were approved for RRF funds and have been waiting for almost a full year for us to make good on a promise. And many thousands of other small enterprises, in the fitness, live events, hospitality, and other hard hit sectors who’ve been waiting patiently - but desperately - for much needed support.

A singular principle has guided my eight month long mission to see this bill become law. It’s the universal - and core American principle - of fairness.  That’s right; fairness.

You see, we promised America’s entrepreneurs during the worst of COVID-19 that we would be there for them. We promised that those who required financial support to survive that we would distribute it on a level playing field. We promised that there would be no program just for the wealthy or well-connected. And we promised them that their government - the United States Congress - would not pick winners and losers. It’s a theme I hear constantly from my friends across the aisle and I agree with it.

But low and behold we did indeed pick winners and losers by woefully underfunding the Restaurant Revitalization Fund and all but ignoring other small businesses dependent on public gathering that were ravaged by the pandemic.

Most of the 100,000 restaurants and cafes which received support weathered the storm. They kept their lights on and their people paid, and are now returning to viability. But 177,000 restaurants and cafes, often next door to or across the street from those who received RRF support. Well they got nothing.

Actually, I shouldn’t say they got nothing. But you know what they did get? They got NON FORGIVABLE bank loans. They took on credit card debt. They mortgaged their homes. Many lost hope and closed their doors. And too many took their own lives as their debts mounted and dreams slipped away. They lost hope and took their own lives. I’ve sat at round tables and seen tears and heard those stories.

So to my friends across the aisle who plan to vote against this measure - particularly those whose OWN businesses were recipients of COVID relief passed in this very chamber - I ask a simple question: How would you feel if you and your business were among those 177,000 that was left out? Was it not wasteful or inflationary spending when you took the money?

Today we have one last opportunity to make good on the simple promise we made at the outset of the pandemic. Best of all, we’re going to convert the monies recovered from the prosecution of fraud into fairness.

We may not always agree on policy, but my goodness - I sure hope that Democrats and Republicans in the United States Congress can agree on the basic principle of fairness.

That’s why I don’t urge - rather I ask - my colleagues to vote YES on H.R. 3807. To vote yes for American small business. And to vote yes for fairness.  I yield back the balance of my time.