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Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence

Representing the 14th District of Michigan

Democratic Women’s Caucus, Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Urge Protection of Minority and Women-Owned Businesses

July 22, 2021
Press Release

Washington, DC - Democratic Women’s Caucus (DWC) Co-Chairs Congresswomen Brenda Lawrence (MI-14), Jackie Speier (CA-14), and Lois Frankel (FL-21), and Vice Chairs Congresswomen Veronica Escobar (TX-16) and Sylvia Garcia (TX-29), joined Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chair Congressman Dr. Raul Ruiz (CA-36) and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Chair Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27) in sending a letter to U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Isabella Guzman urging her to assist businesses that have had their Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) grants rescinded.

The RRF was created in the American Rescue Plan (ARP) to provide grants to restaurants suffering the financial effects of the pandemic. The ARP included a priority window for the RRF where for the first 21 days, “disadvantaged communities” could apply for grants before the general public. The SBA defined this priority group to include women and minority owned businesses.

A restaurant that did not meet these criteria sued, claiming that this was unconstitutional discrimination. A Federal Court agreed and ordered the SBA to rescind the loans given to these businesses. As a result of compliance with this order, the SBA rescinded grants made to minority and women owned businesses and stated they would process these applications after all others. Because the RRF has received more applications than they have funding for, it likely means these businesses will not receive funding.

“We are writing regarding Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) grants that were rescinded by the Small Business Administration (SBA),” the Caucuses wrote. “The RRF is an incredibly valuable program that has been essential to keeping restaurants in business. By requiring the rescission of grants that have been previously awarded, the Sixth District Court of Appeals[1] ruling in Antonio Vitolo, et al v. Isabella Guzman is stripping away one of the last lifelines available to many minority and women-owned businesses.”

 “The implications of the court’s ruling are incredibly serious for many minority and women-owned businesses, and we call on your agency to do everything possible to honor the grants that were given and to provide relief funding to those applicants who through no fault of their own have now been pushed to the back of the line. These politically motivated lawsuits seek not to improve the function of the RRF, but to disrupt the SBA’s ability to assist the businesses who are in the most dire need of assistance, and we would encourage your agency take all necessary steps to fulfill your mission to support small businesses who have lost their funding.”

 Click here for a copy of the letter.