Grants for restaurants, small businesses blocked in Senate

Lindsey McPherson, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in Business News

Cardin’s plea worked on at least one GOP senator. Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski had said earlier Thursday she was still undecided because while restaurants in her state “are still facing some pretty tough times,” she wanted to see the cost of the package come down. She ended up voting to advance the bill.

But ultimately it wasn’t enough. The only Republicans to vote for cloture on the motion to proceed were Wicker, Murkowski, Susan Collins of Maine, Roy Blunt of Missouri and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana.

“Louisiana has one of the highest per capita presences of restaurants for major tourists,” Cassidy said. “We had a COVID lockdown that’s equal to any other city in New Orleans. And a lot of those businesses are currently trying to work through the high cost of labor, they have abbreviated hours, etc.”

In contrast, Louisiana’s other senator, Republican John Kennedy, voted against advancing the bill. Like others who opposed the measure, he cited concerns about adding to the deficit and further fueling inflation.

“I have great sympathy for our restaurants, but at some point we have got to stop spending money that we don’t have,” Kennedy said. “Nobody ever stands up around here and says I’ve got a bad idea and I need money for it. These are all worthy causes. But a big portion of the inflation was caused by the amount of spending that Congress has done.”

Barely a tenth of the $48 billion package was paid for, with $5 billion in unspent funds from the lapsed Paycheck Protection Program, a forgivable loan program first enacted in March 2020 that helped small businesses keep employees on payroll.


For the true spending hawks who also opposed a deficit-financed $40 billion Ukraine aid package the Senate cleared earlier Thursday, it was a rough day.

“We sent $40 billion out before lunch. They want to send $48 billion more after lunch,” Small Business ranking member Rand Paul, R-Ky., said in floor remarks between the two votes. “Oh boy, we have an emergency that we need to get the minor league sports involved with the bailout while Americans across the country are getting poor.”


The anchor of the package was $40 billion to backfill a depleted grant program for restaurants, bars and other food and beverage service providers enacted early last year.


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