Sinema’s plan providing targeted relief for Arizona restaurants—which employ hundreds of thousands of Arizonans—during the coronavirus pandemic moves one step closer to becoming law
WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Senate approved with bipartisan support an amendment including Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema’s bipartisan Restaurant Rescue Plan, originally proposed in her RESTAURANTS Act, in the next coronavirus relief package. The amendment—introduced with Republican Senator Roger Wicker (Miss.)— directs the creation of a fund to help independent restaurants survive the coronavirus pandemic.
“Arizona restaurants fuel jobs across our state, and these employers need support now more than ever. Establishing a restaurant rescue plan will get Arizonans back to work and ensure local Arizona restaurants can keep their doors open as we continue to fight the ongoing pandemic and lay the groundwork for a full economic recovery,” said Sinema.
“The impact that the RESTAURANTS Act would have on reviving Arizona’s economy cannot be understated,” said Danielle Leoni, owner and chef at The Breadfruit & Rum Bar in Phoenix, AZ. “A Restaurant Revitalization Fund would not only help us keep our doors open and our bills paid, but it would also allow us to continue employing the many Arizonans who make up our teams. I am grateful to my own Senator Sinema and Senator Wicker for working across the aisle to fight for America’s hardest-hit businesses and the many workers whose livelihoods have been devastated by this pandemic. Saving restaurants and their workers will lift up every corner of Arizona’s economy, including our vital tourism, agriculture, and manufacturing industries.”
“Senator Sinema’s bill is a game-changer for an industry that is a critical jobs and economic driver for Arizona. Almost 90% of restaurants have furloughed or laid off employees, and that number is on track to only get worse as this pandemic wrecks the industry. Congress doesn’t agree on much these days, but Senator Sinema has crafted a bipartisan plan that will truly restore restaurants in Arizona and across the country. Today’s vote demonstrates her leadership for Arizona’s restaurant industry and how that translates into bipartisanship in the U.S. Senate. The Arizona Restaurant Association and our members will do everything we can to support this plan moving forward,” said Steve Chucri, President and CEO of the Arizona Restaurant Association.
Restaurants are a driving force in Arizona’s economy. In 2019, Arizona restaurants created 310,600 food service and related jobs and were responsible for 11% of employment in the state. However, across the country restaurants have been uniquely devastated by COVID-19. In April alone, 5.5 million restaurant workers lost their jobs. Without federal relief, another 11 million restaurant workers stand to lose their jobs permanently.
The bipartisan amendment passed today establishes a formal Restaurant Revitalization Fund, as proposed by Sinema’s bipartisan RESTAURANTS Act. Restaurants do not need to pay back their grants and can use the funding for payroll, benefits, mortgages, rent, utilities, maintenance, supplies, protective equipment, cleaning materials, food, paid sick leave, and any other expenses deemed essential.