President Biden signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan into law Thursday afternoon, which includes $1,400 stimulus checks for Americans with incomes under $75,000 (or $150,000 for households) and $28.6 billion in relief grants for small restaurants, but without the Democrat-backed $15 minimum wage. Stimulus checks are expected to begin rolling out over the next few days, while the timeline on when the Small Business Administration will begin accepting grant applications from restaurants is unclear.
“This historic legislation is about rebuilding the backbone of this country, and giving people in this nation, working people, middle class folks, the people who built this country, a fighting chance,” Biden said when he signed the bill in the Oval Office.
The Senate’s changes from the original House bill include decreasing the unemployment benefits, as well as extending the deadline to Sept. 6. The bill also subsidizes 100% of COBRA insurance coverage for unemployed Americans, up from 85% that the House proposed.
The American Rescue Plan also includes the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, which now will provide $28.6 billion in debt-free relief for small and mid-sized restaurants and is based on the original $109 billion RESTAURANTS Act passed by the House last year.
"These grants will inject a much-needed stimulus along the supply chain to begin to balance the economic damage done while restaurants have been struggling," National Restaurant Association president and CEO Tom Bené said in a statement Thursday. "We are still a long way from full recovery and it's likely more grant money will be needed to get us there, but today the industry has hope for the future."
As we reported yesterday, The Small Business Administration will likely open up the Restaurant Revitalization Fund grant applications “within weeks, not months” of being signed into law. Additionally, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D- Or.) confirmed that as long as franchisees meet the size requirements (under 20 locations) and are not publicly traded entities, then they can apply for the grants under the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.
As a reminder, the bill also includes:
- A new $15 billion grant program for struggling small business owners, separate from the existing Paycheck Protection Program, along with a $35 billion investment in local financing programs that provide businesses with low-interest loans.
- An extension of eviction and foreclosure moratoriums until the end of September, with $5 billion set aside to help tenants struggling to pay rent.
- Restoration of emergency paid sick leave through the end of September
- $350 billion in aid for state and local governments
- $170 billion in aid for K-12 schools and higher education
- $50 billion for Covid-19 testing
- 15% increase in SNAP benefits through September
- $20 billion toward a national vaccine program, in partnership with state and local governments
- Increasing the Child Tax Credit to $3,000 per child ($3,600 for children under 6) and making it refundable for the year
Biden is expected to address the country in his first Oval Office address Thursday night at 8 pm EST.
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