Attempt to replenish Restaurant Revitalization Fund dies in U.S. Senate

The additional money proposed for the fund could have helped 12,000 Texas small businesses stay afloat, an industry group said.

click to enlarge The Restaurant Revitalization Fund Replenishment Act of 2021 is dead. - SHUTTERSTOCK
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The Restaurant Revitalization Fund Replenishment Act of 2021 is dead.
A bill to flow millions of additional dollars into the pandemic-area Restaurant Revitalization Fund failed to pass the U.S. Senate Thursday.

The Restaurant Revitalization Fund Replenishment Act of 2021 would have added $42 million into the federal pandemic-era relief program, potentially throwing a life preserver to the beleaguered industry. The funding could have helped 12,000 Lone Star State small businesses stay afloat, the Texas Restaurant Association estimates.

The Senate voted 52-43 to extend new funding to the program, but it needed 60 votes to pass, industry news site Restaurant Dive reports.

“While there are valid questions about government spending and inflation, restaurants should not be caught in the crossfire,” National Restaurant Association executive vice president of public affairs Sean Kennedy said in a statement. 

Advocates said the new funding could have helped the Small Business Administration get its restaurant relief program on track. Critics blasted a prior effort to distribute the funds as a shit show.

At the program’s launch a year ago, the SBA received more than 250,000 applications, according to the Los Angeles Times. At that time, the need added up to about $65 billion — double the amount in the fund. More than 18,000 restaurants across Texas applied for the federal dollars.

However, funds ran out a month after the launch, and many who were first told they'd receive money later learned they wouldn't get the promised relief. What's more, the New York Times reports that while 370,000 business owners applied for grants, only 105,000 were approved.

More than half of the independent restaurants and bars excluded from the initial grants told the Independent Restaurant Coalition in an April poll that they'd be forced to close within six months without access to federal support.

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