It has been an uphill, months-long battle, but the RESTAURANTS Act has made major progress this week.
The Independent Restaurant Coalition (IRC) has been relentless in their fight to save the industry. Along with high-profile operators and celebrities, the IRC refused to ease the pressure put on Congress to vote on and pass the RESTAURANTS Act.
Neither did the millions of proud hospitality professionals in this country. They contacted their representatives, told their stories, and spread the word. Their family members, friends and guests did the same to show their support.
There has been a seemingly endless flood of stories highlighting partisan hostility and political gamesmanship inside the House and Senate. However, the efforts to pass the bill have been refreshingly bipartisan.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) unveiled the revised HEROES Act at the start of this week. The reworked stimulus relief bill includes the RESTAURANTS Act, which received bipartisan sponsorship by Congressmen Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA). Secretary for the Treasury Stephen Mnuchin reportedly spoke to Speaker Pelosi about the retooled bill and is scheduled to speak with her again about it.
In fact, the RESTAURANTS Act has received widespread bipartisan support since the IRC began their campaign. It has been a long battle—and it’s not ever yet—and it seemed at times that the bill would never be floored for a vote.
The backbone of this industry is comprised of optimistic, resilient, hard-working professionals and entrepreneurs. In other words, it’s a relentless force that charges through adversity. This week’s news about the RESTAURANTS Act shows the country that hospitality refuses to stay down when knocked to the ground.
An extension of the Paycheck Protection Program (intended to aid small businesses), a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks per qualifying taxpayer ($500 per dependent), and the restoration of the $600 federal unemployment benefit through January 2021 are also included in the “new” HEROES Act.
It’s wise to be cautiously optimistic about the RESTAURANTS Act since the inclusion of the above proposals may put the retooled HEROES Act in jeopardy. However, the Democrats did manage to reduce the cost of their package to $2.2 trillion from the original price tag of $3.4 trillion, which may appeal to fiscally conservative members of Congress and Senate.
Hope isn’t a strategy, but it’s a bit of a relief to see that there may be some light at the end of the tunnel for the hospitality industry. Time—that’s still ticking away—will tell if our politicians plan to do the right thing and save our bars and restaurants.
The fight isn’t over, so please do the following:
- Call the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3131 and tell your House representatives to pass this revised HEROES Act.
- Download the image at the top of this article or via this link, post it to your social media channels, and make sure to tag your House representatives.
Image: Independent Restaurant Coalition
I’ve been studying and writing about the hospitality industry since 2006. Like so many people, I started my journey in this business by working as a host, server and bartender. I was introduced to nightlife in Chicago, learning the ins and outs of nightclubs and after-hours hot spots.
After moving to Las Vegas nearly 20 years ago, I both co-owned a valet company and helped promote the club it serviced. That led to me taking on the role of editor for a Las Vegas hospitality industry publication.
A few short years later, I continued along my journey of hospitality industry reporting. I went from contributing to a major industry outlet to taking on the role of editor and content curator.