Congress OKs American Rescue PlanMarch 9, 2021
Earlier today, March 10, the U.S. House approved the American Rescue Plan Act 220:211 along party lines. Late last week, on March 6, the Senate also passed the bill along party lines with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote. The bill now heads to the White House where President Joe Biden is scheduled to sign it on Friday of this week. The $1.9 trillion package includes $50 billion in aid to small businesses.
Food service businesses have been some of the most hard-hit by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a study by the National Restaurant Association, as of Dec. 1, 2020, more than 110,000 eating and drinking establishments were closed, either temporarily or for good. The eating and drinking place sector also finished 2020 with 2.5 million jobs below its pre-COVID level.
The effects of COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdowns were also particularly felt by small businesses, especially those in minority, and other underserved communities. As of February 2021, the number of small businesses open decreased by almost 38 percent, compared to January 2020. Black-owned businesses experienced the largest losses, and Latino and immigrant-owned businesses also suffered major drops.
Small businesses continue to pay the price of the pandemic and will continue to face various challenges and costs while having to adapt to the constantly changing economic landscape and different lockdown regulations, as well as preparing their businesses for the post-Covid reality.
The American Rescue Plan Act includes:
- A $28.6 billion grant program for restaurants and bars that have lost revenue due to the pandemic;
- An expansion of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) eligibility to include more nonprofits and digital media companies;
- An additional $7.25 billion for the PPP program;
- $15 billion for Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Advance Grants Program, providing grants up to $10,000 per business to small businesses in low-income communities;
- $1.25 billion for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program (SVOG), offering assistance to shuttered venues;
- Eligible applicants can now access both the SVOG and PPP to address SVOG’s delayed start ;
- $175 million for Community Navigator pilot program, designed to help small businesses in underserved and underbanked communities’ access COVID-19 relief resources;
- $1.325 billion in administrative funding to the Small Business Administration so that the agency can implement the programs.
The aid provided by the American Rescue Plan is an addition to the $1 trillion of COVID-19 small business aid already approved by Congress.
Please click here for more details on the small-business-specific provisions in the bill.