Axne seeks Restaurant Revitalization Fund replenishment
Congressional representatives on both sides of the aisle are pushing to revitalize two key COVID-related relief programs.
Iowa Congresswoman Cindy Axne is among the cosponsors of a bill that would replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. Supporters are seeking an additional $60 billion to allow for all existing applications to be fully funded, and for the U.S. Small Business Administration to continue its outreach. Congress originally appropriated $28.6 billion to help restaurants and bars with losses associated with the pandemic. Speaking on KMA's "Morning Line" program Thursday morning, Axne says the fund has helped establishments get back on their feet in the wake of COVID.
"While our economy's coming back strong--food services seem to be going well, restaurants seem to be busy--they're still getting back on their feet," said Axne. "And, so many of these restaurants were counting on this aid when they applied in the spring."
However, the SBA closed its application portal after less than a month of applications due to overwhelming demand. Axne says more restaurants and bars are still in need of assistance.
"What they faced last year just didn't disappear," said Axne. "So, all of the revenue loss they took, the increased costs for things like beef right now, all of these things are still occurring. And, you know, we wouldn't say that if a flood had torn through that businesses should just move on because the floodwaters receded. I look it at like this, this is the same thing. We're moving on, but so many of these businesses are still struggling to keep the doors open."
Funding for the RRF was included as part of the American Rescue Plan. Another portion of the package provided additional dollars for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program, designed to help venues unable to operate during the pandemic. But, the program's application portal crashed in April, and due to continuing issues following its rollout, Axne has joined more than 200 House members in a bipartisan letter to the SBA, calling for immediate action to expedite the release of funds to the program's beneficiaries. Axne says many venues are waiting on the funds awarded to them, and are still struggling to reopen.
"Here's the deal: I know that Iowa venues are waiting on their applications," she said. "Just a few weeks ago, I was in Atlantic, met with the theater owners there. They're counting on this relief, they're waiting for that grant. The communities tried to step up and help them, but honestly, for them to stay successful, they've got to get this. So, we are really working to make sure that money gets distributed quickly."
Any entity still need of assistance from either program should contact Axne's offices in Des Moines at 515-400-8180, or Creston at 641-278-1828.