The US House of Representatives has voted to pass President Biden’s $1.9tn American Rescue Plan, which includes $25bn in relief for small restraurants as well as a $15 minimum wage.
The plan was passed largely on party lines, and the vote took place late on the night of Friday 26th February, into early Saturday morning.
The $25bn Restaurants Revitalization Fund is targeted at small and mid sized restaurants and is based on the original $109bn RESTAURANTS Act passed by the House last year. The plan would provide up to $5m in grants for individual restaurants, bars, caterers, breweries and tasting rooms or up to $10m for restaurant groups.
To qualify, restaurants must not be part of an affiliated restaurant group with more than 20 locations. The first three weeks of the grant period would prioritize restaurants owned and operated by women, people of color and veterans. Additionally, 20% of the funding is set aside for businesses that grossed less than $500,000 in receipts in 2019.
The bill also includes $1,400 relief checks for Americans making under $75,000 annually, as well as funds for vaccine distribution and other relief initiatives. It now faces a significant hurdle as it heads to the Senate for approval.
The day before the house voted on the bill, the Senate parliamentarian ruled that the $15 minimum wage cannot be included in the relief package as it violates budget reconciliation process rules.
In a press conference on Saturday morning, President Biden said: “With their vote, we’re one step closer to vaccinating the nation, one step closer to putting money in pockets of Americans, one step closer to millions of Americans feeding their families, one step closer to getting state and local governments what they need to prevent massive layoffs of frontline workers.
“Now the bill moves to the US Senate where I hope we receive quick action.”
It is expected that the Senate will strip out the $15 federal minimum wage increase and send a revised rescue plan back to the house to vote on.