Today, April 7th; the House voted to add $60 billion to the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. The vote was 217 to 199; Tom Reed was one of only six Republicans to vote in favor; Rep. Tenney was not.
Reed said many restaurants in his district and nationwide need help to recover from a pandemic that is two years running. Restaurants were forced to move to takeout and curbside service at the onset in 2020 because of New York’s business shutdown measures. Both bars and restaurants operated for many months with capacity limits and other covid-related measures.
Explaining her no vote, Rep. Tenney wrote:
I am a cosponsor of legislation, H.R. 4568, that would replenish funds for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) while making key reforms to the program to ensure it actually works for New York’s small business owners. Unfortunately, the bill considered today failed to address the program’s deficiencies, which far too many small businesses have experienced firsthand. My key concern continues to be that the RRF program awarded grants unconstitutionally based on race, gender, and additional priority criteria, rather than ensuring those most in need received assistance. This meant that more than 70% of the restaurateurs who applied for the grants did not receive funding simply because many of them did not meet the program’s unconstitutional and woke criteria. This was wrong then, and it continues to be wrong now. A lack of equal opportunity in the program means that many of those who truly need help will still not receive it. Regrettably, H.R. 3807 did not fix these fundamental issues. That’s why I am a cosponsor of the Entrée Act, which I mentioned above. This is a responsible alternative to this legislation that would eliminate woke criteria that is keeping aid out of the hands of struggling restaurant owners across the country.
In short, Rep. Tenney offers excuses for her vote. She claims: 70% of the restaurateurs who applied for the grants did not receive funding simply because many of them did not meet the program’s unconstitutional and woke criteria, yet if Tenneys position had prevailed in the House, 0% needing help would get any.
Here are the CRS Summaries of the two bills:
H.R. 3807 passed by the House:
This bill provides an additional $60 billion in FY2021 for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, which was established to support restaurants and other food and beverage purveyors in response to COVID-19.
H.R.3807 has 230 cosponsors, mostly Democrats.
H.R. 4568 favored by Rep. Tenney:
This bill provides FY2021 supplemental appropriations for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund and modifies requirements related to administration of the fund. The fund was established in response to COVID-19 to make grants to eligible food and beverage purveyors for covering specified costs such as payroll, operational expenses, and paid sick leave.
The bill correspondingly rescinds unobligated amounts previously made available for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program and coronavirus state and local fiscal recovery funds.
Further, the bill requires the Small Business Administration (SBA) to (1) review and process grant applications in the order in which they are received; (2) impose requirements on applicants that reduce waste, fraud, and abuse; and (3) submit and report monthly on an oversight and audit plan outlining the SBA’s policies, procedures, and activities with respect to these grants.
H.R. 4568 has 94 cosponsors, all Republicans.
H.R. 4568 appropriates the same $60 billion as H.R. 3807, but there are caveats–one hand giveth and the other taketh away. Republicans often claim to favor simple, single-purpose bills; not in this case evidently.
It isn’t clear what chance H.R. 3708 has in the Senate; if the House vote reflects Republican views, it will likely die there. Businesses that need help, won’t benefit from excuses.