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Stimulus Checks for Restaurants? You Can Thank Joe Biden.

President Joe Biden signs a commission for Gina Raimondo as Secretary of Commerce Wednesday, March 3, 2021, in the Oval Office of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)

The IRS is continuing to distribute federal stimulus payments of up to $1,400 to eligible Americans. Following its announcement that it had begun to distribute the eighth batch of such payments, the IRS has now sent out  164 million payments worth approximately $386 billion to American families.

These payments have been instrumental in kickstarting an economic revival, but there are signs that they may soon be coming to an end. Following the distribution of the most recent batch of stimulus payments, the IRS has now used over 85 percent of the money earmarked for direct federal stimulus payments, while the eighth batch of those payments was also not just the smallest batch so far but was also focused primarily on getting money sent out to those Americans whose payments were dependent on the information contained in their 2020 tax returns.

Debates surrounding the continued efficacy of weekly federal unemployment payments of $300, which are set to expire in September, has led to calls for an early termination of those payments as well. The Governors of both Montana and South Carolina have announced that their states would end their participation in the program in late June.

This does not mean, however, that all federal stimulus money is drying up. Indeed, some groups of Americans will continue to receive stimulus money as part of a variety of different COVID-19 relief measures. The Biden administration’s enhanced child tax credit, for example, will see eligible American parents receive either $250 or $300 per month.

In addition, restaurants across the country are set to receive federal support. The American Rescue Plan, which initiated the distribution of the third-round of direct federal stimulus payments, also included a number of other more targeted provisions aimed at supporting specific groups of Americans.

One such provision was the establishment of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF), designed to support the particularly hard-hit bar and restaurant industries. The RRF provides grant money to eligible establishments to help them offset pandemic-related losses and incentivizes them to hire additional workers, and will provide recipients with up to $10 million per business and a maximum of $5 million for a single physical location. Any establishment that receives money through the RRF will not be required to pay it back so long as the money is used for eligible purposes by March 2023.

Eligible recipients for RRF include restaurants; bars, saloons, lounges, and taverns; food trucks, food stands, and food carts; caterers; and establishments such as bakeries, wineries, breweries, and inns whose onsite sales to the public comprise at least 33 percent of their gross receipts.

The Biden administration announced recently that in the first two days of the application period, over 186,000 eligible businesses applied for relief under the RRF program, and that as of May 10 the administration was sending money to the first 16,000 program participants.

Eli Fuhrman is a contributing writer for The National Interest.

Written By

Eli Fuhrman is an Assistant Researcher in Korean Studies at the Center for the National Interest and a recent graduate of Georgetown University’s Security Studies Program, where he focusedd on East Asian security issues and U.S. foreign and defense policy in the region.