Representative Gilbert R. Cisneros, Jr. (CA-39) cosponsored bipartisan legislation to provide relief to independent, local restaurants. H.R. 7197, The Real Economic Support That Acknowledges Unique Restaurant Assistance Needed to Survive (RESTAURANTS) Act of 2020, calls for a $120 billion restaurant stabilization grant program designed to help independent restaurants deal with the long-term structural challenges facing the industry due to COVID-19 and ensure they can reemploy 11 million workers.
“Independent, local restaurants in the 39th District and across the country have been hit hard by the coronavirus. Many are facing increased challenges in operating during this health crisis, while some have had to shut down or lay off workers,” said Rep. Cisneros. “Today, I’ve cosponsored the bipartisan RESTAURANTS Act to provide the certainty, stability, and relief that our independent, local restaurants need and to keep workers employed. As we’re seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases and states halting their reopening process, this restaurant stabilization fund is needed now more than ever.”
Restaurants have been uniquely devastated by COVID-19. 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 government mandated 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 (IRC). 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.
In California’s 39th District, there are 1,748 restaurants that employ 33,413 people. 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.
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. The Stabilization Fund will generate at least $183 billion in primary benefits and $65 billion in secondary benefits—more than double the amount of the proposed grants.
This article was released by the Office of Congressman Gilbert R. Cisneros Jr.