Sinema Introduces New Bipartisan Bill Supporting Local Arizona Restaurants During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Jun 18, 2020

WASHINGTON – Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema introduced the bipartisan RESTAURANTS Act with Republican Senator Roger Wicker (MS). The Senators’ legislation establishes the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) to provide independent Arizona restaurateurs with funding to rehire workers and deal with the long-term ramifications of COVID-19.
“Arizona restaurants fuel jobs across our state, and they need support now. Establishing a Restaurant Revitalization Fund will help get Arizonans back to work and ensure our local Arizona restaurants can keep their doors open as we continue to fight the ongoing coronavirus pandemic,” said Sinema.
“Senator Kyrsten Sinema’s bipartisan work on the Restaurant Revitalization Fund will give local Arizona restaurants a needed boost during the current economic and public health crisis. Restaurants across Arizona are currently facing unprecedented uncertainty and financial loss. This fund invests in Arizona communities helping save much needed jobs and ensuring local Arizona businesses continue to thrive. I commend Senator Sinema for her effective, bipartisan leadership in standing with Arizonans, and we encourage all of Congress to quickly pass the RESTAURANTS Act,” said Steve Chucri, President and CEO of the Arizona Restaurant Association.
“Senator Wicker, Senator Sinema, and Representative Blumenauer’s bipartisan Restaurant Revitalization Fund has given America’s 500,000 independent restaurants a day of hope,” said the Independent Restaurant Coalition. “The need for relief for independent restaurants cannot be overstated in a time of so much uncertainty. Independent restaurants that had limited openings are now closing again. Many still wait for Paycheck Protection Program loans and are accumulating more and more debt in the process.  This is about more than preserving our most cherished places of celebration and gathering– it’s about bringing a massive economy of over 16 million workers and billions of dollars in spending back to life. The revitalization fund is a smart investment that would contribute more than two dollars to the economy for every one dollar spent and ensure millions of Americans have a shot at keeping their job. If Congress steps up and passes the RESTAURANTS Act today, our independent restaurants will deliver for the economy tomorrow.”

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. 
Sinema’s bipartisan RESTAURANTS Act created the Restaurant Revitalization Fund grant program, authorizing $120 billion to provide structured relief to restaurants through 2020. Under the bill, the Department of the Treasury will administer the RRF program and source the $120B from its CARES Act allotment. Awards will be one-time grants valued to cover the difference between revenues from 2019 and projected revenues through 2020, with a maximum grant of $10 million. The RRF program will expire on December 31, 2020. 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, and any other expenses deemed essential by the Treasury.