Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor ahead of tomorrow’s planned Senate vote on bipartisan restaurant relief legislation that would give restaurants and other small businesses the aid they need to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks:
Tomorrow the Senate is going to hold a vote on legislation to help our restaurants, gyms, minor league teams, and other small businesses that have been utterly devastated by the COVID pandemic.
This bill, championed by my colleagues—Senator Cardin, a Democrat, and Senator Wicker, a Republican—and which I very strongly support, will help restaurants and other small businesses like gyms that were left out of earlier rounds of emergency aid. And every proposal included in this package is bipartisan.
Some have said: COVID is over and the restaurants are back, because I see them sort of full.
That may be true for some restaurants, but for just about every restaurant there's a shortage of labor, and many are only opening at limited times. Most of the restaurants I speak to either close certain days, don't serve lunches or whatever because they can't find labor.
And let's not forget many of the restaurants, particularly the smaller ones, the non-chain ones, had to borrow during COVID, borrowing large amounts of money. They need to repay that money. And if they can't do it—based on their limited incomes that are occurring right now—if they don't get the money to pay it back, the lenders are going to foreclose and close restaurants that are already back on the road to prospering and recovering.
That makes no sense.
We must pass this legislation, and I hope we will get a good number of our Republican colleagues to support, to join Senator Wicker in supporting us.
Two years into this crisis, the idea that restaurant owners have all recovered could not be further from the truth. Restaurants are part the fabric of every main street and every tight-knit neighborhood. It’s where friends run into each other on the weekends, grab a drink after work, have lunch after church.
The same can be said for minor league teams, for local gyms, and businesses that support theatres: these are places where Americans have always come together.
I was proud to champion over $28 billion in restaurant relief in the American Rescue Plan, but these establishments still need our help. Tomorrow there should be a strong, bipartisan show of support to help these businesses.