Senate’s $48 billion restaurant relief bill fails

CINCINNATI — Hospitality workers say they feel like the federal government has dined and rushed in hopes it could provide post-pandemic relief.

Senate Bill 4008which failed on Thursday, would have provided $40 billion to restaurants and another $8 billion to industries hard hit by COVID.

Tony Castelli, director of marketing for Earth and Ocean Restaurant Group, has been a vocal leader for the city’s hospitality industry.

“How many local mothers and parents are going to have to shut down, and do God knows what because they didn’t get the funding they were promised when the program was unveiled,” he said.

In 2021, the Restaurant Restoration Fund was signed into law and provided $28.6 billion in assistance. The problem? It ran out with about two-thirds of applicants not getting a single penny.

‘It’s not coming back to the people who need it most – who struggled and expected it, said help was on the way. It’s really disheartening,” Castelli said. “To say you can’t bail out and do something now to help claimants and people who play a major role in the community. This falls on deaf ears. They are intentionally deaf.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul expressed frustration with the Senate spending bill on Thursday.

“We don’t have the money to pay for everything we give to people. It’s dishonest. It’s misleading,” Paul said. “We give stuff to people. Here are some free stuff. You no longer need to work. We are closing your business. Here is money. We don’t have it, so we’ll print it out and borrow it. That’s what happened. Congress went on a spending spree.

Paul said approval of the $48 billion bill would have added to an already crippling rate of inflation.

“Democrats need to wake up and realize that pouring more money into the economy is just like pouring $5 a gallon of gas on an already out of control fire,” he said.

The vote was largely along party lines. Five Republicans from all three states voted against. Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown abstained.

Indiana Senator Mike Braun released a statement on his “no” vote saying:

“While I feel for businesses recovering from the pandemic, what I think we need now is for the feds to stop contributing to Biden’s inflation crisis by spending more money than we haven’t — especially when government shutdowns are hurting these businesses the most, we still have unspent COVID relief money, and this Democrat-created program has been mismanaged from the start.

Castelli said the hospitality industry needs to focus on the future. Provide help to those in need along the way.

“About two years ago there was an incredible private relief fund when it all started for industry members,” Castelli said. “I could very quickly see something like this happen, and I would love to see E+O in the foreground.”

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Norman D. Briggs