On April 7 the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Relief for Restaurants and other Hard Hit Small Businesses Act of 2022 which includes additional funding for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) and new funding for “hard hit” industries. The legislation passed with some bipartisan support.
If the legislation passes the Senate and is signed into law, the RRF would distribute an additional $42 billion in funding to hospitality businesses that applied for and qualified for the RRF grants but did not receive any money before the initial appropriated funds ran out. The act also would provide the Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator with the flexibility to equitably reduce grant sizes if program demand exceeds available funding. The bill would also require the SBA to establish robust oversight requirements and an audit plan to ensure that RRF grants are appropriately awarded.
In addition, the legislation would create a “Hard Hit Industries Award Program” for small businesses that employ less than 200 people and suffered at least 40% pandemic-related revenue losses in 2020 and 2021 compared to 2019 revenue.
On April 6, Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) introduced the bipartisan Small Business COVID Relief Act of 2022, which includes $40 billion in funding for the RRF, as well as funding for gyms and minor league sports teams. The Brewers Association has been advocating for the RRF to be fully funded and is supportive of both the House and Senate bills.
Funding passing the House is a step forward, but there is still more work that needs to occur before the program is funded. The legislation heads to the Senate, where it and any other COVID-19 relief bill is unlikely to move until after the Senate returns from Easter recess on April 25.