Restaurants and concert halls winners of a relaunch agreement
Restaurants, aircraft manufacturers and concert halls are all set to benefit from the $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus relief program the Senate approved on Saturday.
They are among the few industries that have gotten targeted help with the huge spending bill.
Unlike its predecessor – the $ 2 trillion CARES Act, which has proven to be a bundle for corporate interests – the latest installment of federal aid focuses on funding state and local governments and schools. and on additional support for individuals.
Lawmakers have snubbed a wide range of businesses asking for help in Washington, DC
Gym operators and long-term care facilities for the elderly are among those who argue Congress has left them facing further closures and layoffs even as the broader economic outlook brightens.
“When you see restaurants continue to receive financial aid, and yet those who are on the front lines of caring for the most vulnerable in this crisis are being left out, I struggle with that,” said James Balda, president of ‘Argentum, an association representing companies managing residences for the elderly.
His group unsuccessfully called for $ 5 billion in federal aid for the sector.
“The hope is that by spring and early summer things will have started to normalize, so businesses won’t need a ton of extra help,” said Marc Goldwein, senior vice-chairman of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.
The bill, he said, “reflects a shift towards ensuring that households and state and local governments are in good shape, rather than specific industries or the corporate sector in general.”
In this context, the handful of interests that have secured billions of dollars in new funding stand out.
The restaurant industry has emerged as the biggest private sector winner of the bill.
The package establishes a $ 25 billion “revitalization fund” for restaurants that will distribute grants to help them cover lost revenue from the pandemic, with businesses eligible for up to $ 5 million each.
Sean Kennedy, vice president of public affairs for the National Restaurant Association, called the fund “the culmination of a year-long effort” to secure a dedicated fund for the sector.
But it racked up a string of small pandemic relief lobbying victories, including an exclusion in the payroll protection program that gave restaurants a higher loan limit than other businesses.
In the latest bill, the catering group helped extend a tax credit for businesses that keep workers on their payroll.
And they lobbied against an increase in the federal minimum wage that many Democrats wanted to include, approving the package once they were convinced it wouldn’t include such an increase or end the sloped minimum wage.
Kennedy said the restaurants deserve special attention.
“No industry has lost more jobs and income than restaurants,” he said, setting the sector’s lost income at $ 255 billion.
“We were the first industry to close, we will be the last to reopen and we have a very long road to recovery ahead of us.”
The National Restaurant Association has helped extend a tax credit for businesses that keep workers on their payroll. Above, diners eat at a restaurant in San Antonio last Wednesday. (Associated press)