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Rep. Reed supports more funding for restaurants in next COVID relief package

BINGHAMTON, NY (WSKG) — The next COVID-19 relief package may replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, which helped restaurants that were suffering due to the pandemic.

"These are the mom and pop shops. These are the local diners, the local restaurants," said Rep. Tom Reed (NY-23). "The backbone of not only in our district, but across America when it comes to the restaurant industry, and that's where we're trying to really target the relief."

Reed, a Republican, along with Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer (OH-3), is co-sponsor of the bi-partisan legislation, which proposes $60 billion in additional assistance to restaurants. It would come through existing grant programs established in the American Rescue Plan Act in the spring of 2021.

According to the National Restaurant Association, more than 278,000 restaurants have applied for assistance. But, the initial funding of $28.6 billion dried up, with 177,000 eligible applicants shut out. Now with supply chain issues, inflation and labor shortages, more than half of restaurant operators tell the association it will take a year or longer before they recover.

Reed said he expects the additional money will settle the remaining damages to the industry. He could not give a timeline on when it will pass, but said the bill has wide support in the Senate.

Negotiations for the COVID relief package are ongoing. The wider package is likely to also include additional resources for COVID testing and personal protective equipment, like masks and face shields.