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Ryan pushes bill to help restaurants

With numerous restaurants and bars struggling because of the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan is backing a bill to establish a $120 billion fund for those businesses.

The Real Economic Support That Acknowledges Unique Restaurant Assistance Needed to Survive (RESTAURANTS) Act of 2020 would provide funding to restaurants, bars, food stands, food trucks and carts and caterers that are not publicly traded or part of a chain with 20 or more locations doing business at the same time.

These are “mom-and-pop family restaurants that have been crushed by” the pandemic, said Ryan, D-Howland, on a Monday media call.

The bars and restaurants are “pillars of our community” that “have been left behind” during the pandemic, he said.

Under the proposal, grants would cover the difference between 2019 revenues and projected revenues for this year. During the first two weeks of the grant’s availability, only businesses with annual revenues of $1.5 million or less would be eligible in order to prioritize the smaller restaurants and bars, Ryan said.

The money could be used for payroll, to pay suppliers, mortgage principal or interest, rent, utilities, maintenance expenses or food and beverage purchases, he said.

“There’s very little restriction on using the money,” Ryan said.

U.S. Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., along with U.S. Reps. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., and Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., introduced the bill last month.

Some Republicans in the Senate support it, and Ryan said he’s working to get House Republicans to back the bill.

Ryan said he hopes it will be approved by Congress no later than September.

Ken Stewart, who owns restaurants in Akron and Bath, said on Monday’s call that he is 45 to 60 days past due on bills to some of his vendors, but because he’s been in business for 30 years, they’ve been patient. But others aren’t as fortunate, he said.

dskolnick@tribtoday.com

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