April 07, 2022

Kilmer Votes to Support Washington’s Restaurants and Small Businesses

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer (WA-06) voted to support the Relief for Restaurants & Other Hard Hit Small Businesses Act – which aims to deliver $55 billion to replenish funding for local Washington restaurants and establish a new program aimed at supporting other small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Local restaurants and small businesses contribute to the vitality of our communities - but they’ve been hit hard during this pandemic. That’s why Congress passed the American Rescue Plan and provided critical support to local businesses and restaurants, and the workers they support,” said Rep. Kilmer. “We know as this pandemic has persisted – they have faced continued challenges. That’s why today I voted to support legislation that will help build on the success of key programs in the American Rescue Plan – including the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. At the end of the day, this is about jobs. This new funding will help more local, independent restaurants access essential relief so they can keep employing people in our region. In addition, this bill will establish a new program to support our hardest-hit small businesses – delivering critical assistance to businesses that have suffered revenue losses of at least 40 percent during the pandemic. I’ll keep working to have the back of our small businesses and local employers.”  

The Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF), which was established through the American Rescue Plan, has distributed $28.6 billion to restaurants across the country – including over $920 million for nearly 3,250 Washington businesses. Due to its popularity, the program quickly exhausted its funding before more than 170,000 eligible businesses could access relief. Since its depletion, Rep. Kilmer has consistently advocated for the RRF to be replenished. In May 2021, Rep. Kilmer joined his colleagues in urging House Leadership to provide more funding for the RRF and in November 2021, urged the Biden Administration to do the same. He also worked with his Washington state congressional colleagues earlier this year to call for congressional leaders in the House and Senate to act. The Relief for Restaurants & Other Hard Hit Small Businesses Act will provide $42 billion to replenish the RRF so that these restaurants can apply for this assistance.

The legislation also takes action to support other struggling small businesses, including providing $13 billion to establish the Hard Hit Industries Award Program, which will assist Washington small businesses with 200 or fewer employees that have experienced 40 percent or more in lost revenue. The Hard Hit Industries Award Program includes funding eligibility for Washington state’s distillery and craft distillery industry, which was effectively disqualified from receiving RRF funding. Rep. Kilmer and U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) have led the charge in pushing to ensure small business owners in the distillery and craft distillery industry could gain equitable opportunity to access relief from federal programs – urging the U.S. Small Business Administrator Guzman to take action since early 2021.

In addition, the legislation updates the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program to provide Washington entertainment venues with more time and flexibility to use federal relief funds.