Today, Rep. Cindy Axne (IA-03) announced she is co-sponsoring bipartisan, bicameral legislation that will provide additional funding for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) to ensure Iowa restaurants and their workers receive the aid they requested through COVID-19 relief programs created earlier this year.
In March, Rep. Axne voted to create the Restaurant Revitalization Fund as part of the American Rescue Plan, providing $28.6 billion for restaurants and bars to survive the COVID-19 pandemic, get back on their feet, and navigate the challenges of reopening with the rest of the U.S. economy.
But the U.S. Small Business Administration closed the application portal after less than a month of applications due to overwhelming demand: 362,000 applicants requesting $75 billion in funding, almost three times the funds approved by Congress.
“Throughout the tough economic times of the past year, I fought to ensure that Iowa’s restaurants, bars, and food stands – as well as their workers – have the support they need navigate the pandemic and get back on their feet as restrictions were eased,” said Rep. Axne. “Earlier this year, I helped create the Restaurant Revitalization Fund – but the demand for these funds outpaced what was originally approved. While our economy is coming back strong, our food service industry is still getting back on its feet – and folks who were counting on this aid when they applied this spring shouldn’t be forced to scale back operations or lay off employees because the aid programs we set up weren’t sufficient. This legislation I’m pushing to see approved could mean the difference between survival and closure for restaurants throughout Iowa.”
Rep. Axne is now one of more than 100 House co-sponsors of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund Replenishment Act of 2021, which would provide the RRF an additional $60 billion to allow for all existing applications to be fully funded and for the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to continue its outreach.
Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, 90,000 U.S. restaurants permanently closed and tens of thousands more have significantly scaled down their operations. Even with months of positive steady job growth, restaurant and bars are still one million jobs below their pre-pandemic averages.
The RRF Replenishment Act, which has bipartisan support in both the U.S. House and Senate, is also endorsed by National Restaurant Association and the Independent Restaurant Coalition.
Rep. Axne was also a co-sponsor of the RESTAURANTS Act, the legislation that inspired the creation of the RRF earlier this year.