House OKs additional federal aid for restaurants affected by pandemic
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
Voting along party lines, the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday voted 223-203 in favor of passing H.R. 3807, titled "Relief for Restaurants and other Hard Hit Small Businesses Act of 2022," introduced by Congressman Blumenauer and Co-Sponosed by Congressman Michael San Nicolas.
The measure, which now moves onto the Senate for consideration, provides $42 billion to replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund to award grants to eligible entities that previously applied to the program and were unable to secure funding.
The first restaurant relief program, established last year under the American Rescue Plan. provided a total of $28.6 billion in direct assistance funds to restaurants and other hard-hit food establishments that have experienced economic distress and significant operational losses due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The new bill provides $13 billion to establish a Hard Hit Industries Award Program to provide awards to small businesses across all industries and sectors that were hardest hit by the pandemic but were not eligible for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund or Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program (SVOG).
"After engaging the Small Business Administration for more equitable funding for territorial establishments eligible for this kind of federal relief it was further iterated by the Agency that additional resources would be a necessary step, and we are pleased that this legislation we co-sponsored and sought support for has passed the House," San Nicolas said.
"Our businesses eligible for Restaurant Revitalization Funding are uniquely impacted during these times with a tourism economy far from recovery and a struggling unemployment scenario unlike the states, making their business prospects and outlook far more precarious, and underscoring the need for us to make every effort to get this measure through," San Nicolas added.
Funding for H.R. 3807 will be offset by pandemic funds reclaimed, seized, or returned to the federal government, while also extending the timeline for SVOG recipients to utilize their grant awards.
At last year's meeting, members of the Guam Economic Development Authority’s board of directors disclosed that only 19 percent of the island’s restaurants received money from the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, compared to 40 percent nationwide.