The US Senate just gave the proverbial finger to all of the restaurants who were promised COVID-19 relief funding in the federal Restaurant Revitalization Fund Act of 2021 but who didn’t get a penny because the fund ran dry by May of 2021.
For a year the National Restaurant Association and its allies inside and outside of Congress, including the tireless Sue Bette of Burlington, Vermont’s Bluebird BBQ restaurant, have been lobbying and working Congress for a replenishment of the RRF to give relief funds to all of the restaurants that applied in 2021 but received nothing. See Bill Introduced in Congress to Replenish the RRF. For a while it looked like their efforts were about to pay off via the Restaurant Revitalization Fund Replenishment Act of 2021, which passed the House and was waiting for approval by the Senate. Those hopes were just dashed on May 19 when the Senate failed to end a filibuster against the bill, effectively killing it. (It should be noted that all three of Vermont’s representatives in Washington, Rep. Peter Welch and Sens. Pat Leahy and Bernie Sanders, supported the Replenishment Act.) You can read the National Restaurant Association’s detailed explanation of the sad fate of the bill here: Senate Filibuster Kills The RRF Replenishment Act. The death of the Replenishment Act leaves 177,000 eligible and deserving restaurants — including hundreds of Vermont restaurants — without the COVID relief funds that some lucky early applicants received. How many restaurants that eventually closed their doors could have survived with full funding of the RRF, we will probably never know. Apparently at this time there is not an evident path forward for RRF replenishment. And for those restaurants that did have to close their doors, replenishment of the RRF would be of no help now.