The Restaurant Revitalization Fund looks dead in the water as senators blocked the Senate from considering a $48 billion aid package for restaurants and other small businesses that suffered losses during the pandemic.
After months of lobbying and some last-minute horse-trading, the Senate chose not to proceed with the small-business aid bill with a vote of 52-43 against. It means the Senate will not even consider the motion to inject the restaurant industry with much-needed funds.
It is thought that worries about the deficit loomed over the motion and influenced the voting to come down on the nay side. It happened on the same day that the Senate cleared a $40 billion aid package for Ukraine, which may have also influenced votes.
While customer demand for restaurants has surged in recent months, restaurants are facing increasing challenges, from staffing crises to inflation and supply chain issues, and it now looks like they are being cut adrift by the government.
The Independent Restaurant Coalition, which has been working tirelessly behind the scenes on Capitol Hill, lobbying for more restaurant support, said in a statement: “Despite today’s outcome, the IRC will continue to engage inclusively, collaborate generously, educate tirelessly, and advocate loudly to build a sustainable future for independent restaurateurs, employees, and the communities we support.”
However, Maryland senator and Restaurant Revitalization Fund supporter Benjamin Cardin did not share the IRC’s optimism saying that it looks like a line has now been drawn under the motion. “I’ll look for any opportunity we can get, but I don't want to mislead people,” he said. “This was our best shot.”