Cantwell Statement on Senate Vote to Replenish the COVID-19 Restaurant Revitalization Fund

In state, 7,236 restaurants submitted RRF grant applications, but only 3,247 received funding before the money ran out

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) released the following statement after the Senate failed to pass additional funding for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. The final vote was 52-43.

“Thousands of restaurants and bars in the State of Washington — and across the country — have been desperately waiting for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund to be replenished so that they can get the help they were promised. I’m deeply disappointed that more of my Republican colleagues didn’t vote for this bill,” Senator Cantwell said.

The American Rescue Plan established the RRF to provide $29 billion funding for restaurants and bars to cover operating costs, including payroll, and the construction of outdoor seating, to help keep their doors open. In Washington state, 7,236 restaurants submitted RRF grant applications and only 3,247 of them, less than half, received funding before the RRF ran out of money in May 2021. In the first year of the pandemic, over 2,300 restaurants throughout the State of Washington have closed.

Senator Cantwell has been a strong and consistent advocate for providing COVID relief to restaurants during the pandemic, from speaking on the Senate floor urging the passage of the American Rescue Plan Act to advocating for more relief when funds ran out last summer. At a 2021 Senate Small Business Committee hearing, Cantwell pressed U.S. Small Business Administrator Isabel Guzman about the need to provide more funding for the RRF.

In January 2022, Senator Cantwell held a virtual roundtable with restaurant owners from across Washington state to discuss the impacts of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the need to replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) established by the American Rescue Plan for addition relief amidst the recent omicron surge.