This week, the House is expected to take up the Relief for Restaurants and Other Hard Hit Small Businesses Act of 2022, an amended version of H.R. 3807. The amended bill, sponsored by Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), Chair of the House Committee on Small Business, aims to provide additional financial assistance to small businesses that continue to be adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Of significance to travel advisors, the bill sets aside $13 billion for a new Hard Hit Industries Awards Program to provide grants to small businesses across all industries that were the hardest hit by the pandemic but ineligible for relief under either the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) or the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program. The legislation also would provide $42 billion to replenish the RRF.
To qualify for a grant under the new program, a business must have no more than 200 employees and have suffered a pandemic-related revenue loss of at least 40 percent in 2020 and 2021 (averaged) as compared with 2019. Independent contractors and other self-employed persons are eligible if they meet the revenue loss threshold. Grants of up to $1 million are authorized, though award amounts may be reduced if demand exceeds the funding. Additionally, the revenue loss calculation would be reduced by the amount of any grant previously received by the applicant under the Paycheck Protection Program and/or EIDL program.
To ensure that the funds are allocated to the businesses with the greatest need, the program establishes a system whereby entities with an 80 percent or greater revenue loss receive first priority, followed by those experiencing losses of 60 percent. Proceeds may be used to cover, among other things, payroll costs, payments to independent contractors, mortgage or rent payments, utilities and other operational expenses. The bill requires the Small Business Administration (SBA) to issue rules to implement the program within thirty days of its enactment into law.
The bill will be considered by the House Rules Committee on April 5, where changes may be made, and is expected be considered by the full House later this week. Its prospects in the Senate are unclear at this time. Both chambers enter a two-week recess at the end of this week.
Throughout the pandemic, ASTA has championed an industry-neutral approach to providing relief to those most affected by the pandemic, and this legislation does exactly that. We encourage ASTA members to call their Representative and request his/her support for the bill, using the U.S. Capitol switchboard number, 202-224-3121.
After being connected to your Member of Congress, tell the person who answers the phone that you are a travel advisor in the district whose business saw significant revenue losses during the pandemic and that H.R. 3807 would help you recover. Consider sharing your loss percentage and respectfully request the Representative’s support for H.R. 3807 when it’s brought to the floor this week.
We will continue to closely monitor the progress of this important bill and we will update our members as additional information on its status becomes available.
If you have any questions, please contact us at GovtAffairs@asta.org. Thank you!