Government / Politics

Congressman Panetta co-introduces the RESTAURANTS Act

Bipartisan bill would support independent restaurants through new revitalization fund.

Information provided by the office of Jimmy Panetta.

On June 19, Congressman Jimmy Panetta, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, co-introduced the Real Economic Support That Acknowledges Unique Restaurant Assistance Needed to Survive (RESTAURANTS) Act of 2020H.R. 7197.  According to a recent release, this bipartisan, bicameral legislation will establish a $120 billion revitalization fund to help independent restaurants deal with the long-term structural challenges facing the industry because of COVID-19 and support the reemployment of workers. Congressman Earl Blumenauer is the sponsor of the legislation.

“Restaurants are the bread and butter of the hospitality industry on the Central Coast, and a critical part of our economy and community. These establishments have been greatly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and restaurant workers are at risk of permanently losing their jobs without further action from Congress,” said Congressman Panetta. “I am proud to co-introduce the RESTAURANTS Act, which would create a $120 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund for restaurants to cover essential expenses to help make up for lost revenues during this crisis, and provide relief to the workers who make our restaurant industry such a success.”

Restaurants have been uniquely devastated by COVID-19. The release said that in April alone, 5.5 million restaurant workers lost their jobs, accounting for 27% of total job losses in the month. Without further action from Congress, over 11 million independent restaurant workers are at risk of permanently losing their jobs. Restaurants are facing months of massive revenue losses due to social distancing, rising costs of supplies, new expenses for personal protective equipment, and a decrease in the public’s willingness to dine out.

The RESTAURANTS Act has the support of the Independent Restaurant Coalition. In April, the group sent a letter to Congress calling for the creation of a stabilization fund. In May, the Independent Restaurant Coalition discussed plans for a restaurant stabilization fund at a meeting with President Trump and senior White House officials.

There are approximately 500,000 independent restaurants in the United States, which account for approximately 76% of the 658,000 total restaurants and bars in the United States. According to a recent study, about 5.9 million restaurant jobs (an estimated 4.5 million of which are from independent restaurants) have vanished within a matter of weeks—the most of any industry and nearly double the figure from the next most affected industry, the release said.

In addition, the study found that 85% of independent restaurants are likely to close by the end of the year if direct aid like the stabilization fund is not provided to the industry. Independent restaurants are more at risk of permanently going out of business due to the pandemic because consumer spending at these establishments has been disproportionately affected and they lack the same access to capital markets. In whole, the Stabilization Fund is expected to generate at least $183 billion in primary benefits and $65 billion in secondary benefits—more than double the amount of the proposed grants.

The legislation was introduced in the House alongside Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick, Suzanne Bonamici, Dwight Evans, Annie Kuster, Chellie Pingree, Adam Smith, Peter Welch, and Susan Wild. Accompanying legislation was introduced in the Senate by Senators Roger Wicker, Kyrsten Sinema, Lindsey Graham, Chris Coons, and Doug Jones.

To read the full economic study, click here.

A full summary of the legislation can be found here.

To read the full text of the bill, click here

BenitoLink Staff