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Congresswoman Ross Calls for Additional COVID-19 Relief for Small, Independently Owned Restaurants in Budget Reconciliation Package

September 8, 2021

Washington, D.C. -- Today, Congresswoman Deborah Ross (NC-02) sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer requesting that they include additional COVID-19 relief funding for small restaurants in the budget reconciliation package. Small, independently owned restaurants are the backbone of local economies, but the emerging Delta variant has slowed their recovery. Without additional funding, many of these restaurants will struggle to survive or be forced to shut their doors.

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 of these 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.

“With the vital relief provided in the American Rescue Plan earlier this year, many restaurants were able to continue operations, and we saw restaurant sales grow 2.4% from May to June. However, as the Delta variant has spread across the country, this growth has declined. As discussions regarding the budget reconciliation package continue, I urge you to include additional funding for restaurants in the upcoming legislation.”

In February, Ross led North Carolina Democrats in sending a letter urging House leadership to make independent restaurants a top priority in COVID-19 stimulus negotiations. In March, Ross helped pass the American Rescue Plan, which included $28.6 billion fund specifically designed to support restaurants struggling due to the pandemic through the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF).

Congresswoman Ross is a vocal supporter of the restaurant industry. Specifically, she is a cosponsor of the bipartisan, bicameral RESTAURANTS Act. Congresswoman Ross hosted a roundtable with Congressman Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) in December with local North Carolina restaurant owners to hear directly from them on the challenges they are facing due to COVID-19.

Full text of the letter can be found here and below:  

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi                                                                 The Honorable Chuck Schumer

Speaker                                                                                                     Majority Leader

U.S. House of Representatives                                                              U.S. Senate

H-232, the Capitol                                                                                   322 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20515                                                                        Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer:

I appreciate your ongoing efforts to expand opportunity, facilitate economic growth, and create prosperity for all Americans in the Build Back Better reconciliation package. I am writing to request that you include additional relief funding for small restaurants that have suffered due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

North Carolina is home to nearly 20,000 eating and drinking locations, approximately 76% of which are independently owned—many of these 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, our economy relies on the success of independent restaurants. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on these businesses. During the earlier stages of the pandemic, over 75% of North Carolina’s restaurants and other food services businesses were in danger of closing permanently. Approximately 56% of lost jobs in North Carolina are in the leisure and hospitality industry, which includes food services.

With the vital relief provided in the American Rescue Plan earlier this year, many restaurants were able to continue operations, and we saw restaurant sales grow 2.4% from May to June. However, as the Delta variant has spread across the country, this growth has declined.

As discussions regarding the budget reconciliation package continue, I urge you to include additional funding for restaurants in the upcoming legislation. I believe we need to build on the investments in the American Rescue Plan by providing additional assistance that will enable independent restaurants to keep their doors open until conditions improve.

Thank you for considering this request. Restaurants play an integral role in our economy and in helping our communities to Build Back Better. We must continue to support independent restaurants so that they can remain in business, sustain jobs within their communities, and contribute to economic growth in this critical period for recovery.

Very truly yours,

Deborah K. Ross

Member of Congress

Issues:Economy