Biden signs American Rescue Plan, providing aid for restaurants, seafood industry

U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday, 11 March, signed the USD 1.9 trillion (EUR 1.59 trillion) American Rescue Plan Act into law, opening the door for billions in aid to go to businesses – including nearly USD 29 billion (EUR 24.2 billion) for a restaurant industry that’s been battered by closures and other restrictions over the past year due to COVID-19.

On Thursday, the National Restaurant Association lauded the bill’s Restaurant Revitalization Fund, which association president and CEO Tom Bene said will help save jobs across the country.

Over the past year, foodservice sales have dropped by USD 255 billion (EUR 212.81 billion), and more than 110,000 establishments have closed.

"Our focus from the beginning of this crisis has been on ensuring that our favorite local restaurants could access the assistance they would need to survive,” Bene said in a statement. “This fund is a win for the smallest and hardest hit restaurants that have sacrificed and innovated to continue to serve their communities."

The restaurant funding is one of a few measures in the Rescue Plan that will benefit the seafood industry. In addition, the new law gives the U.S. Department of Agriculture USD 4 billion (EUR 3.34 billion) to buy food, including seafood, and give processors, including seafood processors, funding to help combat the spread of COVID-19.

States and local governments will also receive billions in aid, some of which can go to address the negative economic impact from the COVID-10 pandemic.

The bill passed on partisan lines in both chambers, but even some Republicans who voted against the entire package still supported including the restaurants language in the bill.

U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi, noted on Twitter the fund was based on the RESTAURANTS Act bill he and U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema, D-Arizona, sponsored last year. Wicker called that a “bright spot” in the bill.

While Wicker’s tweet was met with criticism from many as he ended up voting against the bill, others still said his work deserved credit.

“…Senator Wicker did not vote for the package (we wish all members did!), but his work on the RESTAURANTS Act from the beginning made the relief fund possible. We are grateful for that work,” the Independent Restaurant Coalition tweeted Wednesday night.

Biden said Thursday afternoon that it was clear a strong majority of Americans supported the bill.

“This historic legislation is about rebuilding the backbone of this country and giving people in this nation, working people, middle-class folks, people who built the country a fighting chance,” Biden said.  

Photo courtesy of John Smith Williams/Shutterstock


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