Local business owners pushing through as COVID relief bill fails in Senate

The U.S. Senate only got 52 of 60 votes needed for the package to proceed.
Posted at 10:20 PM, May 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-20 23:20:07-04

MILWAUKEE — A bill aimed at giving billions of COVID-relief dollars to small restaurants won’t make it to President Joe Biden. After a U.S. Senate vote, the Restaurant Revitalization Fund is dead.

Here in Wisconsin, Mountaintop Coffee is Nathan Darrow's American dream. The Waukesha coffee shop has existed mostly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s interesting. It is not what anybody expects to have in the first year,” Darrow said.

Darrow thanks loyal customers and some federal aid for helping him through the most uncertain days.

“With that, we were able to bring all of our staff back that we had beforehand. So, that was nice to say, ‘We have the funding, you can come back to work,’” Darrow explained.

Another round of COVID-19 aid looks unlikely after the Senate voted down the Small Business COVID Relief Act of 2022.

For restaurants, it would’ve added $48 billion of relief to businesses like Darrow's.

“With rising costs of food and everything, it just feels like one challenge after another, and I know some businesses are struggling,” Darrow said.

In a letter, Wisconsin Restaurant Association President Kristine Hillmer called this a gut punch. The Senate only got 52 of 60 votes needed for the package to proceed.

Chef Greg Leon was busy prepping for the dinner rush when TMJ4 News caught him at his Milwaukee restaurant Amilinda. He too says he feels for business owners in need of help.

“For a lot of restaurants, this was their last hope and their last chance to continue with their dream,” Leon said.

As Leon continues fighting to keep his dreams going, he believes others not getting this aid could have a trickle-down effect that will be felt for years to come.

“This isn’t just money that’s not going to restaurants. This is money that’s going to a lot of different businesses and people,” he said.

The National Restaurant Association estimates not getting this package to President Biden's desk puts 20 percent of all restaurants nationwide at risk.

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