Raleigh, NC – Today, Congresswoman Deborah Ross (NC-02) sent a letter to House leadership requesting additional relief funding for restaurants in the omnibus spending bill for Fiscal Year 2022. Independent restaurants are critical to the economic health of communities across North Carolina, but these businesses continue to be disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. As the omicron variant creates further challenges for the economic recovery of the restaurant industry, additional support from the federal government is urgently needed to help North Carolina restaurants keep their doors open.

The letter read in part, “North Carolina is home to nearly 20,000 eating and drinking locations, approximately 76% of which are independently owned – many by women and people of color. Food service businesses in North Carolina generate $21.4 billion, account for 8.7% of all employment in the state and made up 16% of the state’s sales tax revenue in 2019. In short, independent restaurants are critical to our state’s economy.

“As discussions regarding COVID relief in the omnibus spending bill continue, we urge you to make restaurants a top priority. The industry needs additional assistance to enable restaurants to keep their doors open until conditions improve. We also ask that you consider longer-term solutions for the restaurant industry, such as those offered by the RESTAURANTS Act.”

Congresswoman Ross continues to be a vocal supporter of the restaurant industry. In February 2021, Rep. Ross led North Carolina Democrats in sending a letter that successfully advocated for House leadership to make independent restaurants a top priority in COVID-19 stimulus negotiations. In March 2021, Rep. Ross helped pass the American Rescue Plan, which included the $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund that provided support to restaurants struggling due to the pandemic. In September 2021, she called on Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to include additional COVID-19 relief funding for restaurants in the budget reconciliation package.

Congresswoman Ross is a co-sponsor of the bipartisan, bicameral RESTAURANTS Act. In December 2020, Rep. Ross hosted a roundtable with Congressman Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) and local North Carolina restaurant owners to discuss the challenges caused by COVID-19 crisis.

Representatives G. K. Butterfield (NC-01), Kathy Manning (NC-06), and Alma Adams (NC-12) joined the letter. Full text of the letter can be found here.