Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said large chain restaurants should not have received money under the governments small business aid scheme.
Large restaurant chains have faced backlash after receiving over $80 million in COVID-19 relief loans intended for small businesses, while the total amount of $349 billion under the stimulus program ran out last week.
“They should not have gotten it because they had more than 500 employees. They could have legitimately got some help from another government program. … They should have gone to the Federal Reserve to get it, and not got it from the small-business program,” Grassley told C-SPAN on Tuesday.
The Republican senator was responding to questions about Shake Shack and Ruths Chris Steak House, which both disclosed recently that they had received millions of dollars in loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The scheme, which is part of the $2.2 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, was devised as a way to help small businesses with fewer than 500 employees weather the economic fallout due to the outbreak of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus.
Virus-driven shutdowns have disrupted economic, social, cultural, and religious life and plunged the world into a deep economic slump unseen since the 2008 financial crisis.
Big companies were able to apply for the PPP relief loans under an exemption allowing restaurants and hotels to apply for the funds so long as they didnt have over 500 employees at one location.
Shake Shack, which has over 200 branches, received $10 million under the PPP. Ruths Chris Steak House, with 150 locations, got $20 million in loans.
“We are seeing tremendous backlash because hundreds of thousands of small businesses have not gotten PPP loans,” Chris Allieri, the founder of communications consulting firm Mulberry & Astor, told Business Insider. “Many have had to cease operations because they cant wait until the next pot of money is approved.”
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNN on Sunday that a deal being discussed with Congress would include $300 billion more in PPP funds.