The House bill, which also has no apparent path to Senate passage, included $42 billion to backfill the Restaurant Revitalization Fund and $13 billion for an industry-neutral grant program for “hard-hit” businesses based on size and revenue loss.
Restaurant and small business aid backers will likely continue to push for relief in other must-pass vehicles, like a stalled $10 billion COVID-19 supplemental for the government to purchase more vaccines, therapeutics and other supplies needed to respond to future virus variants or a fiscal 2023 spending package.
But without more offsets, any effort to spend billions more on pandemic relief — after Congress already appropriated more than $5 trillion toward the effort since 2020 — will be met with GOP resistance.
“We never say never,” Cardin said. “I just don’t know how we’re going to be able to get it (done). If we can’t get the votes now, why would we get them later?”
If Democrats are willing to concede the business aid package is dead, they could take its $5 billion PPP offset and use it to add more spending to the COVID-19 aid package. There had been bipartisan interest in spending $5 billion to send vaccines and other supplies to vulnerable populations overseas, but the international aid was cut due to lack of agreement on offsets.
Other provisions in the Senate and House small-business aid packages that don’t cost any money could also easily be added to other vehicles, such as language to extend the available time businesses previously awarded Shuttered Venue Operators Grants have to spend their money.
(CQ-Roll Call writers David Lerman and Aidan Quigley contributed to this report.)©2022 CQ-Roll Call, Inc., All Rights Reserved. Visit cqrollcall.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.