June 15, 2020 - Issue: Vol. 166, No. 110 — Daily Edition116th Congress (2019 - 2020) - 2nd Session
INTRODUCTION OF THE RESTAURANTS ACT OF 2020; Congressional Record Vol. 166, No. 110
(Extensions of Remarks - June 15, 2020)
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[Extensions of Remarks] [Page E538] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] INTRODUCTION OF THE RESTAURANTS ACT OF 2020 ______ HON. EARL BLUMENAUER of oregon in the house of representatives Monday, June 15, 2020 Mr. BLUMENAUER. Madam Speaker, there is perhaps nothing more central to communities large and small than their local restaurants. Restaurants play host to everything from first dates to marriage proposals and many of life's important memories. The focal restaurant industry supports Top Chef Masters, first jobs, and parents working double-shifts to give their children a brighter future. The COVID-19 pandemic has put all of this in jeopardy. Since mid-March, the vast majority of independent restaurants have closed their doors, laid off most of their employees, and are unsure what their business model will be after the pandemic. While independent restaurants employ more than 11 million people, the food supply chain touches every corner of the country and every congressional district. From farm workers and fishermen to truck drivers and distributors, the restaurant industry provides a $1 trillion annual boost to the United States; economy, to say nothing of supporting tens of millions of livelihoods. The restaurant industry has been uniquely devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic. This is particularly true of independent establishments that account for more than three-quarters of all restaurants and bars in the United States. The restaurant sector is the top contributor to unemployment rolls across America. In April alone, 5.5 million restaurant workers lost their jobs, accounting for 27 percent of total job losses in the month. Some of these jobs are coming back but many will not return without assistance.The National Bureau of Economic Research predicts that only 15 percent of restaurants will be able to stay open if the COVID-19 pandemic lasts six months. The RESTAURANTS Act would establish a $120 billion restaurant revitalization fund at the Department of Treasury. Funding would be available to food service or drinking establishments that are not publicly traded or part of a chain with 20 or more locations doing business under the same name. The grant values would cover the difference between revenues from 2019 and projected revenues through 2020. The first 14 days of the grant's availability is only available to restaurants with annual revenues of $1.5 million or fewer, ensuring that the smallest restaurants are prioritized. Additionally, the legislation includes administrative funding toward outreach and engagement to restaurants owned and operated by women, Veterans, and people of color. A study on this proposal found that the fund would generate at least $183 billion in primary benefits and $65 billion in secondary benefits--more than double the amount of the fund. In the past three months, Congress has demonstrated the political will to pass more than $3 trillion of relief to most sectors of the economy--the House of Representatives just passed an additional $3 trillion of relief. There were broad-based programs and there was targeted relief for specific industries. Yet restaurants have not been a recipient of any targeted relief. We can't afford not to act. Millions of livelihoods, hundreds of thousands of businesses, and the fabric of our communities is at stake. ____________________