Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is backing a bipartisan bill that would create a $120 billion fund for restaurants, which have been ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic, as senators headed home until September without a broader accord for a new stimulus package.
Schumer, a New York Democrat, said in a statement today that lawmakers should “act now to pass this important legislation and other critical assistance that struggling small businesses and workers are in desperate need of.”
His support increases the possibility that the bailout for restaurants could move forward on its own, but it comes as talks between Republicans and Democrats over a comprehensive relief plan have collapsed over disagreements regarding unemployment aid, help for local and state governments and funding for the postal service — as well as how much money the government should spend.
The two parties remain more than $1 trillion apart.
The hospitality industry, which has had millions of job losses as states and cities instituted lockdowns and indoor dining restrictions to control the spread of the novel coronavirus, is central to the economy of Schumer’s home state, but food and drinking establishments have struggled with existing relief programs for small businesses.
A third of all jobs lost in New York are in the leisure and hospitality industries, and more than a quarter of those unemployed in the U.S. because of the pandemic are food and beverage workers, according to the Independent Restaurant Coalition, an industry group that supports the legislation, the Restaurants Act.
The Restaurants Act, which would create a grant fund through the Treasury Department, has the support of 20 other Senate Democrats and seven Republicans, although some members of the GOP have expressed broader concerns about the country taking on more debt.
The bill also has 177 sponsors in the U.S. House.