Restaurant Trade Group Says Biden's Build Back Better Act Will Hurt Small Businesses

The National Restaurant Association, which in the past has lobbied against increases to the minimum wage and paid sick leave, has raised concerns about the potential impact of President Joe Biden's Build Back Better Act in a letter to Congress released on September 29.

The letter, which was addressed to House Leaders Nancy Pelosi and Kevin McCarthy and Senate Leaders Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell, said that parts of the bill were too expensive for small businesses.

National Restaurant Association Vice President of Public Affairs Sean Kennedy said investments in pre-K education, childcare, and public transit were "long-overdue" but worried that the cost of the bill would "burden" the "struggling restaurant industry."

This letter referenced the association's September 2021 survey of 4,000 restaurants across the country. The association said the results of the survey showed that they felt "a recovery from the pandemic will be prolonged well into 2022."

According to the association, because of the increase of Delta variant cases, "78 percent of operators say their restaurant experienced a decline in customer demand for indoor (dining)." The survey also found that 91 percent of restaurants were paying more for food and that 78 percent of businesses felt they were understaffed.

In the letter, Kennedy said the association believed proposed tax hikes in the Build Back Better Act would hurt the small businesses that it said accounted for nine out of 10 restaurants.

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In a letter released on Wednesday, the National Restaurant Association said it believed President Joe Biden's Build Back Better Act would be bad for small restaurant businesses. Pictured, Biden visits Taqueria Las Gemelas (Twin Girls), a restaurant located in Northeast Washington, DC, on May 5, 2021. Las Gemelas was a beneficiary of relief funding from the pilot program Restaurant Revitalization Fund the administration's program to provide relief to restaurants, which were the first hit and the worst hit in the pandemic. Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images

"It's against this grim economic backdrop that we offer our input on the Build Back Better Act—specifically, our opposition with proposed tax increases on restaurants, our renewed call for replenishing the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, and our objections to the unprecedented changes to the National Labor Relations Act that could bankrupt many businesses," Kennedy wrote.

The letter said the association opposed any cap on the Section 199A Small Business Tax Deduction, which it believed would prevent businesses earning over $400,000 or $500,000 from saving money in taxes. It also made a point of opposing the taxing of inherited businesses and objected to increases in the corporate tax rate which it said would hurt restaurant's ability to grow.

The group said it would like to see the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) replenished. On May 24, the RRF stopped accepting new applicants. According to the association, two out of three eligible restaurants that applied for the RRF did not get any money. With winter set to curb outdoor dining, the National Restaurant Association said that new RRF money is needed to "sustain restaurants, workers and suppliers in every state."

"Our nation's restaurant recovery is officially moving in reverse. The lingering effects of the Delta variant is a further drag on an industry struggling with rising costs and falling revenue," the letter read. "We support many of the goals of the Build Back Better Act, but the legislation is too large and too expensive a check for small businesses to take on."