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Warner & Kaine Cosponsor Bipartisan Bill To Support Virginia’s Restaurants Through New Revitalization Fund

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine cosponsored the Real Economic Support That Acknowledges Unique Restaurant Assistance Needed to Survive (RESTAURANTS) Act of 2020, legislation that would establish a $120 billion revitalization fund to help independent restaurants deal with the long-term structural challenges facing the industry because of COVID-19 and support the reemployment of 11 million workers.

“Virginia’s independent restaurants have been especially hurt by the coronavirus emergency and require much-needed relief,” the Senators said. “This bill can help save restaurants across the Commonwealth by offering the critical assistance needed to cover costs of operations and supporting staff. We’re glad this effort has bipartisan support to help millions of restaurants from closing their doors for good.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the restaurant industry has lost over 6.1 million jobs – the most of any industry and double the figure from the next most affected industry. Without further action from Congress, over 11 million independent restaurant workers are at risk of permanently losing their jobs. Restaurants are facing months of massive revenue losses because of social distancing, rising costs of supplies, new expenses for personal protective equipment, and a decrease in the public’s willingness to dine out.

The National Restaurant Association estimates that more than 237,000 restaurant employees in Virginia have been laid off or furloughed since March – representing at least 78 percent of the 305,000 employees that were working at Virginia’s eating and drinking places in February.

The Senate bill was led by Senators Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and was cosponsored by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Chris Coons (D-DE), Doug Jones (D-AL), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Bob Casey (D-PA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-NV).