WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M) is fighting to support New Mexico restaurants by cosponsoring the Real Economic Support That Acknowledges Unique Restaurant Assistance Needed to Survive (RESTAURANTS) Act of 2021.
“New Mexico’s restaurant industry has been dealt too many unfair hands throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Heinrich. “It’s not just business owners that are hurting, it’s also the servers, bussers, hosts, kitchen staff, and dishwashers that have seen their hours reduced and wages cut as result of decreased traffic. That’s why I’m cosponsoring the RESTAURANTS Act to provide retroactive relief to New Mexico’s hardest-hit, eligible establishments and offer solutions to help these restaurants weather the storm.”
The bipartisan, bicameral legislation is a proposal to establish a $120 billion revitalization fund to support independent restaurants and small franchisees as they deal with the long-term structural challenges facing the industry because of COVID-19.
The proposed fund would provide relief to food service or drinking establishments that are part of a group of up to 20 facilities. Owners could apply for grants of up to $10 million to cover eligible expenses retroactively to February 15, 2020, and ending eight months after the legislation is signed into law.
Grants could be used to support payroll, benefits, mortgage, rent, utilities, building maintenance and construction of outdoor facilities, supplies (including protective equipment and cleaning materials), food, operational expenses, paid sick leave, debt obligations to suppliers, and any other essential expenses.
The legislation also includes several new provisions to help restaurants and their employees and ensure the integrity of the program. These provisions would:
- Update the award calculation based on annual loss from calendar year 2020 rather than quarterly.
- Provide grant eligibility for new restaurants that opened after January 1, 2020.
- Provide paid sick leave as an eligible expense for employees and provides a bonus amount to cover the cost of voluntarily providing 10 days of sick leave to employees.
- Provide Treasury the discretion to help reduce waste, fraud, and abuse.
- Impose reporting obligations on the Department of the Treasury to share who gets loans and demographic information about the recipients.
- Ensure that restaurants can use both the Employee Retention Tax Credit and the RESTAURANTS Act grant program, so long as they are not used for the same expenses.
For a full summary of the legislation, originally introduced by U.S. Senators Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), click here.