Thompson, Blumenauer, Fitzpatrick Urge Congressional Leadership to Provide Rapid Relief to Restaurants

Press Release


Washington – Today, Reps. Mike Thompson (CA-05), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), and Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01) sent a bipartisan letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell calling for the rapid replenishment of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.

“Restaurants in California’s Fifth District and across the country have shown inspiring resilience in the face of COVID-19 but the Omicron variant has reimposed necessary restrictions to keep our communities safe,” said Rep. Thompson. “The Omicron variant is causing staffing issues and forcing many restaurants to close temporarily, threatening the financial security of millions of Americans. We must promptly replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund and provide relief directly to restaurants and their employees.”

“January is always one of the most difficult months of the year for the restaurant industry, and the Omicron variant has only made things worse,” said Rep. Blumenauer. “Restaurants in every community are hanging on by a thread, and will close their doors for good if Congress doesn’t act. Millions of working families rely on this industry to pay the bills. That’s why I led the charge to create the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, and why the time is now to replenish it.”

“Since the onset of the pandemic, the restaurant industry has faced massive revenue losses. The hard-hit mom-and-pop establishments are now plagued by labor shortages, rising food costs, and supply chain challenges. Simply put, many of these small businesses may not survive the winter season. The initial Restaurant Revitalization Fund program was extremely successful in keeping businesses open, people employed, and families stable. The demand for relief for our local food and beverage industry has only increased. Congress must act swiftly to pass the Restaurant Revitalization Fund Replenishment Act in the next appropriations package to give restaurants the lifeline they need so they can continue to recover and rebuild from the pandemic,” said Rep. Fitzpatrick.

The American Rescue Plan provided $28.6 billion for restaurants and bars in need of relief during the COVID-19 pandemic. This program provided restaurants, bars, and other eligible businesses with funding equal to their pandemic-related revenue loss of up to $10 million. Recipients of these funds are not required to pay back the funding as long as the funds are used for eligible uses by March 11, 2023.

Eligible businesses include:

  • Restaurants
  • Wineries and distilleries
  • Food stands, trucks, and carts
  • Caterers
  • Bars, saloons, lounges, and taverns
  • Snack and nonalcoholic beverage bars
  • Bakeries
  • Breweries, tasting rooms, taprooms
  • Inns

193 restaurants and small businesses in California’s Fifth District received over $58,000,000 from the Restaurant Revitalization Fund with an average award of $300,752.

The full text of the letter can be found below.

Dear Speaker Pelosi, Leader McCarthy and Leaders Schumer and McConnell:

We are writing to urgently request a rapid replenishment of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF).

As you know, the RRF was created in March of last year. The original $28.6 billion in funding was rapidly exhausted, to the extent that applications to the RRF exceeded allotted funds by a factor of nearly 3 to 1.

Restaurants are a critical part of our economy, in every single state and congressional district. The emergence of the omicron variant of COVID-19 has forced the reimposition of mask mandates, social distancing rules, and other precautionary measures – including, in many areas, temporary restaurant closures – while exacerbating the challenge of finding and keeping restaurant staff, many of whom cannot find or afford childcare services or who have contracted the virus themselves. This resurgence directly jeopardizes both financial and food security for millions of workers – many of whom are women, immigrants, and people of color, and most of whom have already faced substantial hardship during the pandemic.

We strongly support additional resources to support struggling restaurants, including replenishment legislation already introduced. We urge you to quickly pass additional funding for the RRF. These funds are critical to keeping the restaurant industry alive over the coming months.