Sinema, Wicker Unveil New Bipartisan, Bicameral Effort to Continue Supporting Independent Restaurants

Jun 10, 2021

Senators introduced legislation providing an additional $60 billion in targeted relief for restaurants struggling due to the coronavirus pandemic

WASHINGTON – Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema introduced bipartisan legislation with Republican Senator Roger Wicker (Miss.) boosting funding for their Restaurant Rescue Plan to help independent restaurants keep their doors open and Americans employed.
The American Rescue Plan law established a $28.6 billion coronavirus relief fund for independent restaurants originally proposed in Sinema and Wicker’s bipartisan RESTAURANTS Act. Sinema and Wicker are now continuing their efforts to ensure all independent restaurants can access relief by boosting the fund with an additional $60 billion. Companion legislation is being introduced in the U.S. House by Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.). 
“Arizona restaurants fuel jobs across our state, and these employers need support now more than ever. Our Restaurant Rescue Plan is getting Arizonans back to work and ensuring local Arizona restaurants can keep their doors open, and more resources are needed as we continue fueling a full economic recovery,” said Sinema.  
“The Restaurant Revitalization Fund provided a lifeline for America’s small and independent restaurants,” Wicker said. “Our restaurants are now beginning to recover from a year of lost revenue, but many establishments are still hurting and have not been able to access aid for which they are eligible. Replenishing this fund would help restaurants, their staff, and the broader food supply chain as they continue to get back on their feet.”

The American Rescue Plan law established a formal $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund, as proposed by Sinema and Wicker’s bipartisan RESTAURANTS Act. As part of the fund, 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. The Restaurant Revitalization Fund saw record participation, with over 270,000 independent restaurants in cities and towns across the country applying for relief. Over 3,000 Arizona restaurants applied for funding. Because of that, the application portal closed this week and needs additional funding to re-open. Sinema and Wicker are proposing a $60 billion boost to the Restaurant Revitalization Fund to ensure all independent restaurants in need can apply, receive coronavirus relief, keep their doors open, and keep Americans employed.
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.