Senate assembles $48 billion aid package for restaurants and other small businesses

The Senate on Thursday blocked a bipartisan bill that would provide $48 billion for restaurants, gyms and other small businesses particularly affected by the pandemic.

Senators voted 52 to 43 for a vote on the bill, which fell short of the 60-vote threshold needed to move forward. Only five Republican senators voted in favor of the proposal, with opponents of the law citing its impact on the federal deficit and inflation.

The vote would likely doom the bill, which was drafted by Senator Roger Wicker (R-Missouri) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) and backed by Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (DNY) as a means of achieving help struggling small businesses get out. of debts accumulated during the pandemic.

“Well, that was our best shot. Make no mistake about it, we are disappointed we couldn’t get it done,” Cardin told reporters after the vote. “But you know, I will always fight for the small business. I will continue to look for ways we can help.”

Pressed after a vote on any potential plans for similar action in the future, Wicker told The Hill, “You know, time is a very fleeting commodity, so I just don’t know.”

Advocates argued that the extra money was necessary to prevent the closure of dozens of small companies that were heavily indebted.

The bill would have provided $40 billion to the Troubled Restaurant Relief Fund. Democrats provided $28.6 billion to the fund in their COVID-19 relief package, but the Fed quickly ran out of dollars, with only one in three applicants receiving assistance.

“Local restaurants across the country expected help but the Senate was unable to finish the job,” Erica Polmar, executive director of the Coalition of Independent Restaurants, said in a statement. “Neighbourhood restaurants across the country hold hope in this program, selling their homes, spending retirement money, or taking out personal loans in an effort to keep their employees working with their doors open.”

The bill set aside $2 billion for gyms and fitness facilities, $2 billion for live event operators, $2 billion for bus and ferry operators, $1.4 billion for small businesses located near border crossings closed during the pandemic and $500 million for sports teams small. It took a huge financial hit due to COVID-19.

The Community Gym Alliance, which represents nearly 20,000 gyms and fitness centers, said in a statement that Congress “has failed to invest in fitness and exercise despite its clear benefits to the mental and physical health of Americans.”

“More than a quarter of gyms and fitness facilities are permanently closed,” the group said. “Those that are still operating, but burdened with debt to withstand government-imposed shutdowns and restrictions, may close soon as well.”

Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Roy Blunt (R-Mis), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Bill Cassidy (R-Laos) joined Democrats in voting to advance the hall vote. Three Democrats and two Republicans did not vote.

Republican critics of the bill said the relief package was wasteful and would exacerbate severe inflation by pumping more money into the economy.

“Democrats need to wake up and realize that dumping more money into the economy is simply pumping $5 a gallon of gas on a fire that is already out of control,” said Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky). Until the vote.

Aris Foley contributed.

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