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Tags: white house | restaurants | covid | pandemic | aid

White House Reluctant to Serve Up More Aid for Restaurant Industry

People eat outside during the lunch hour at a restaurant
Lunch hour on Pennsylvania Avenue in the Capitol Hill neighborhood on May 21, 2021. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

By    |   Friday, 18 February 2022 08:35 AM EST

The nation's restaurant industry, which has been slammed by the pandemic, is pushing hard for aid in what could be the last massive COVID-19 relief package, but the White House says the help is not necessary and could drive the measure's price tag far beyond the $30 billion that's being projected, according to people close to the discussions. 

Lawmakers, backed by the restaurant lobby, are hoping for the addition of another roughly $48 billion for the industry, but with the virus numbers falling in most of the nation, the White House is not convinced that more direct funding will help the industry recover, reports Politico.

President Joe Biden and his administration aren't expected to object if a package agreement is reached, but some senior aides are questioning if the nation's restaurant industry is facing a situation that is as serious as is being presented. 

The administration is "sympathetic" to the difficulties facing restaurants, but still "finds it hard to commit large new pots of funds without understanding more how it will interact with other priorities” such as climate change and child care, a White House source told Politico. 

Meetings that have been held between restaurant groups and the president's economic advisers have left people like Sean Kennedy, senior vice president for public affairs for the National Restaurant Association, skeptical. 

"We, at this point, do not see a package coming from the White House that includes small business relief that would benefit industries like the restaurants," Kennedy commented. 

A deal including yet another round of aid for the industry was a complicated proposition even without Democrats opposing it, as any deal passed would need to include support from at least 10 Senate Republicans. 

Blue state governors have been dropping COVID-19 mandates, including limits on restaurant capacity, and there are concerns that more government spending will add to the nation's growing inflation. 

"There is virtually nothing the economy needs from the federal government," Jason Furman, a top economic adviser to former President Barack Obama and an expert who is close to Biden's White House, commented. “The economy is roaring ahead and it’s going to roar even more in the coming months.”

The restaurant lobby and its congressional allies are warning the industry is being left behind, and financial data shows the industry hasn't yet added back almost a million jobs that were lost during the pandemic. 

Only one-third of restaurants seeking their part of the $28.6 billion included for the industry in the COVID-19 relief bill passed last spring said they got any money before the funds ran out, leading to the push for another $48 billion, reports Politico.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., meanwhile, is calling for potential restaurant relief to be focused on the "small businesses that need it the most" rather than allowing corporate franchises to be in the "front of the line."

Some Democrats, though are arguing a targeted relief package would not be enough to drive up inflation, and that the White House is too concerned about putting even more money into the economy. 

"Washington uses the lens of optics unfortunately too much, and the lens of principle too little," Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., who backs more restaurant aid, commented. "There are literally restaurants who received funding, and across the street, another one, just as qualified, got approved and got nothing. I think it’s grotesque,” said Phillips."

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., the top Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, said Congress has already approved aid for industries hit hard by the pandemic. 

The administration also says it is worried about causing problems in obtaining money for public health matters in the COVID-19 fight, and White House senior adviser Gene Sperling said the earlier stimulus money included another $350 billion for states and localities that can be used to help local restaurants or small businesses. 

Sandy Fitzgerald

Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics. 

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


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The nation's restaurant industry, which has been slammed by the pandemic, is pushing hard for aid in what could be the last massive COVID-19 relief package, but the White House says the help is not necessary and could drive the measure's price tag far beyond the $30 billion...
white house, restaurants, covid, pandemic, aid
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2022-35-18
Friday, 18 February 2022 08:35 AM
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