WASHINGTON—Yesterday, the House passed the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief packages, and it now goes to President Biden for his signature, reports CNN.
Approved by the Senate over the weekend, the relief bill features new funds for public-health measures and another dose of economic aid, including a $1,400 stimulus check for many Americans, plus a $300 weekly supplement for unemployed workers. The plan also includes a one-year expansion of the child tax credit that Democrats want to make permanent; provides funds for schools, vaccine distribution efforts and state and local governments, while also supporting struggling multi-employer pensions, among other measures.
According to RetailBusinessOnline.com, the landmark bill earmarks $28.6 billion in direct aid to restaurants and calls for distributing the money in grants of up to $5 million for restaurants in need, or $10 million to operations with multiple locations. Restaurants must apply to receive a grant.
Eligibility amounts will be determined by subtracting an applicant’s 2020 sales from their 2019 revenues, with the aim of compensating businesses for what was lost during the shutdown, when consumers were advised to stay home.
This legislation is the first time restaurants have been singled out for aid. The industry has argued that the private sector’s second-largest employer deserves special help because it was battered more than most businesses by the social distancing and the suspension of business activity during the pandemic. The research projected that the restaurant industry suffered a loss of about $240 billion in sales during 2020, and most estimates peg the number of restaurants that closed to be between 100,000 to 110,000.
The bill has buoyed expectations about the speed of the economy’s recovery after the yearlong pandemic closed schools, restricted businesses and left more than 500,000 people in the U.S. dead. New cases, hospitalizations and deaths related to COVID-19 dropped in recent weeks as the number of vaccinations increased. Democrats say the legislation was a necessary step toward bringing the economy back to full strength after the pandemic.
The size of the package has renewed concerns among some lawmakers and experts about the nation’s growing debt burden and the risk of inflation. The series of relief bills Congress has passed since the pandemic began has increased publicly held federal debt by nearly $4.5 trillion over the past year. At $21.9 trillion as of March 1, the debt is roughly the size of the nation’s entire economic output, the highest since the aftermath of World War II.