Nationwide Restaurant Affiliation asks Congress for assist amid omicron

On March 18, 2021, people in New York City dine at an outdoor dining patio set up at a restaurant.

Angela Weiss | AFP | Getty Images

The National Restaurant Association is asking Congress to replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund as the Omicron variant hits operators’ businesses.

Last year, lawmakers set up the $28.6 billion fund to help bars and restaurants struggling in the wake of the crisis pandemic. The grants were intended to cover a restaurant’s total pandemic losses of up to $5 million for a single location or $10 million for a business with fewer than 20 locations. Public companies were not eligible, but their franchisees could still apply.

With the fund depleted, restaurants pressed for Congress to refill it. Several lawmakers have introduced legislation to do so, but the bills haven’t gained traction and the Biden administration didn’t seem interested in backing the measure.

but the recent spike in Covid-19 cases and its impact on restaurants could change minds.

The latest National Restaurant Association survey of operators found that 88% of restaurants saw a drop in demand for indoor dining due to the Omicron variant. More than three-quarters of those polled told the trade group that business conditions are worse now than they were three months ago. And the majority of operators said their restaurant is less profitable today than it was before the pandemic.

“Alarmingly, the industry has still not recovered the more than 650,000 jobs lost at the start of the pandemic, a loss 45% more than the closest industry,” trade group top lobbyist Sean Kennedy wrote in a letter to the Congress leadership for both parties .

Kennedy also noted the benefits of the first round of RRF grants. The trade group estimates the first round of funding saved more than 900,000 restaurant jobs, and 96% of recipients said the grant made it more likely they could stay in business. A full replenishment of the fund would save more than 1.6 million jobs, the trade group estimates.

Gary Gensler says the SEC will not herald a China-style crypto ban, however Congress might | Forex Information | Monetary and Enterprise Information

SEC chairman Gary Gensler.

  • SEC chairman Gary Gensler said the agency will not impose a China-like crypto ban because that authority rests with Congress.
  • Most tokens could be some form of security, he said at an SEC prudential hearing on Tuesday.
  • Gensler asked questions from a lawmaker who beat him up for “brutally” running over investors.
  • Sign up for our daily newsletter here, 10 things before the opening bell.

Gary Gensler said the Securities and Exchange Commission has no plans to ban cryptocurrencies as the authority actually rests with Congress, adding that most tokens pass the test of being some form of security.

The SEC chair did that Comments at a hearing in the House of Representatives Tuesday after Republican lawmaker asked Ted Budd if the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission could follow China in imposing a blanket ban on cryptocurrencies.

“No. I mean, that would be a matter for Congress,” said Gensler.

“I think a lot of these tokens pass the tests of being an investment contract or note or other form of security that we bring into the SEC’s investor protection mandate,” he added.

The concern in the crypto world is that the U.S. government may restrict or ban digital assets, much like it did with gold in 1933. Gensler previously said that crypto exchanges must register with the agency because some of their tokens or products could be securities.

The People’s Bank of China Declared crypto transactions illegal Late last month, a move analysts said was in line with the central bank’s stance over the past decade.

“Our approach is really very different,” Gensler told the House Financial Services Committee.

He noted that the SEC is looking into how the industry can best protect investors and consumers, and comply with anti-money laundering and tax compliance laws. It would also be in the Problems that stablecoins could pose, he added.

Gensler’s comments echoed those recently made by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, who said the Federal Reserve had no intention of banning cryptocurrencies.

At the same House hearing, Patrick McHenry asked Gensler on the SEC’s stance on digital assets and reprimanded him for being vague about what a digital asset actually is.

“Some of your comments have raised questions in the marketplace and made things less than clear,” said McHenry. “You made seemingly spontaneous remarks that move the markets, you disregarded rule-making by issuing an out of order statement, and you’ve essentially been rude to American investors.”

Gensler said the agency is following the Administrative Procedures Act, which requires a regulator to issue a general notice of the proposed rule.

McHenry asked Gensler if he a. have reviewed Safe Harbor Proposal created by SEC Commissioner Hester Pierce. The proposal aims to give developers of digital networks a three-year grace period to develop a platform with a registration exemption from federal securities laws.

“Commissioner Peirce and I discussed your thoughts on a possible safe haven,” said Gensler. “I think the challenge for the American public is that if we don’t monitor this and put in place investor protection, people will be hurt.”

Continue reading: Altcoins to Buy: These 15 little-known and undervalued tokens could see an ether-style spike due to significant developer interest, according to Bank of America

Congress members urge state for Harvey aid cash

The Texan GLO said neither Houston nor Harris County scored high enough on their application to receive a portion of the $ 1 billion federal funding for Harvey aid.

HOUSTON – Members of Congress urge the state to change its plan for flood protection after Hurricane Harvey US Department of Housing and Urban Development to Houston and Harris County were Funding refused.

Last week the Texas General Land Office Neither Houston nor Harris County scored high on their application to receive a portion of the $ 1 billion federal funding intended to help protect areas post Harvey from flooding.

According to criticism from local guides, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush On Wednesday, he said he was calling on Harris County’s HUD to raise $ 750 million for flood control.

The change came hours later Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo tweeted a letter Signed by Harris County Commissioners and Houston Councilmembers sent to Bush for lack of funding.

The money Bush is asking for is only for the county, not the city of Houston.

“In no universe should the people of Houston and Harris Counties be denied adequate funding for the damage caused by the catastrophic floods that occurred not only during Hurricane Harvey in 2017, but also during other floods in 2015 and.” 2016 occurred, “Rep. Al Said Green during a press conference Thursday.

Green said he is calling on the GLO to ensure the Houstonians receive adequate funding for Harvey and for future flood events.

“If the plan is not changed and then approved by the HUD, no one gets any money,” he said.

WATCH LIVE | Members of Congress from the Houston area are calling for the #txglo Approve appropriate Harvey funding for Houston and Harris Counties. # KHOU11


– KHOU 11 News Houston (@KHOU) May 27, 2021

In a press release on Wednesday, Bush blamed “federal government bureaucratic requirements and complex regulations” for omitting Harris County. Green disagreed.

“Whether on purpose or by accident, Commissioner Bush politicizes the needs of our constituents,” Green said. “Harvey was not a democratic disaster. It wasn’t a Republican flood. Blaming the Biden administration is not a good strategy. “

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee said the GLO has no authority to remove the areas from the list because Texas has not yet submitted its amended plan.

“This revised plan could raise Houston and Harris Counties likely in excess of $ 750 million,” said Jackson Lee.

Jacinto City, Pasadena and Galena Park – all cities in the Rep. Sylvia Garcia district – are on the GLO list. But Garcia said all cities in Harris County should be on the list.

“The fact remains that all cities in the county and the county itself have been affected and should get their fair share,” Garcia said. “Any matrix, formula, or scheme in which Houston and Harris Counties get zero is just flawed.”

Rep. Lizzie Fletcher said it was not the intent of Congress that Houston and Harris Counties not receive funding. She said members of Congress are working to make sure the areas get the funding they need.

“We spoke to HUD. We spoke to people in the (Biden) administration. We have spoken to our local partners and we are all working together and we will work with our partners to make sure we get our fair share, ”said Fletcher.

Congress handed $16 billion for dwell leisure reduction, so the place is it?

Concert promoters, as well as live venue and entertainment owners, are no doubt excited to be open again in Texas.

They’re a little less pleased with the pace at which $ 16 billion in federal aid is being released to help recover from a disastrous 2020.

You are not alone.

“I am very concerned. It was non-partisan[…] and we don’t have any rules yet from the SBA, and you need to have rules for people to apply, “Republican Congressman Roger Williams told News on Thursday.

Williams hears of frustrated event and entertainment companies, many of which did not qualify for PPP dollars.

The Save Our Stages Act that Williams started slide in Augustfinally became law in December as part of another COVID-19 relief package.

But almost three months later, the Small Business Administration hasn’t even spent a dime on allocated funds.

“You have some excuses. They don’t have enough people, we had a transition, they didn’t have an administrator. It’s all true, okay, I got it. But our venue owners are waiting and that’s a deal, “said Williams.

The agency plans to open applications in April, and Williams hopes the checks can begin May through June.

As 25 News has reported for months, providers, organizers and everyone are dependent on live entertainment feels the financial bottleneck.

For more information from the SBA on how to apply, Click here.

Extra COVID-19 reduction cash coming to Nevada as Congress approves $1.9 trillion invoice | Coronavirus

LAS VEGAS (FOX5) – It can’t be long before Nevadans receive aid from President Joe Biden’s newly approved COVID-19 relief package.

“If you have a family of four and are making less than $ 150,000 a year, your loved ones can benefit too. You can receive direct checks worth about $ 5,600,” said Jen Psaki, White House press secretary.

Psaki spoke to FOX5 News this week about the benefits of the bill.

“There’s an approximately $ 300 per week benefit that we’ve extended through September. And also for the first $ 10,000, just over $ 10,000, of unemployment insurance benefits that anyone is entitled to and requested not to have to pay taxes on them. This ensures that there is an extension that goes further into the year as people still get on their feet and try to get back to work, “Psaki said .

A guide to what to expect from the $ 1.9 trillion stimulus package

The House of Representatives voted March 10 to approve the $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan that paved the way for President Joe Biden to include his top legislative priority in law later this week.

Nevada Congressman Dina Titus endorsed the move and says it will be helpful in a number of ways, including providing $ 1,400 worth of checks to those earning less than $ 75,000 a year. She broke out to Nevada the following amounts:

  • $ 3 billion to Nevada
    • Nearly $ 440 million for Clark County
    • $ 130 million to Las Vegas
    • $ 836 million to CCSD to return to class safely
    • $ 170 million to McCarran International Airport for expected return of travelers
    • $ 130 million to RTC in southern Nevada

There is also a child tax credit, money for rent and benefits, and subsidies to cover COBRA health insurance premiums for unemployed or leave workers.

Some Republicans have criticized the bill, pointing out the rising national debt, calling it an unnecessary liberal wish-list with some money not tied to COVID-19 at all.

“Most of that bill has nothing to do with COVID itself. It’s just a great gift from the Democratic majorities in both houses,” said Utah Republican Senator Mike Lee.

“Outside of the stimulus payments, almost half of it isn’t even spent this year,” said Missouri Republican Congresswoman Ann Wagner.

Biden is expected to sign the bill this Friday.

Congress poised to supply Mississippi more cash to develop Medicaid

President Joe Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, due to be approved by Congress, provides Mississippi with a significant financial incentive to expand Medicaid to primarily provide medical care to the working poor.

Mississippi Senate Public Health Committee chairman Hob Bryan, D-Amory said if the legislation finally becomes law in the coming days, the package would provide Mississippi with around $ 300 million annually for two years if heads of state approve an expansion of Medicaid. Bryan said he based that figure on estimates provided to him by the Mississippi Division of Medicaid and other health groups.

Mississippi is one of only 12 states that haven’t expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

“For several years now, the federal government has offered us a million dollars a day to care for sick people,” said Bryan. “Now they’re offering $ 1 million a day to make the other $ 1 million a day. You can’t make that up. “

The Coronavirus Relief Act, based on information from the American Hospital Association, would provide the incentives to expand Medicaid for the 12 states that did not by paying the equivalent dollars they received from their federal government for their traditional Medicaid – Program received, increase by 5%.

Mississippi, the poorest state in the country, receives the highest match rate from the federal government. The federal government has usually paid about 75% of the cost of treating Medicaid recipients in Mississippi, with the state paying the rest.

CONTINUE READING: Mississippi missed $ 7 billion when it didn’t expand Medicaid. Will that number rise to $ 20 billion?

Most recently, based on language, the amount paid by the federal government for Medicaid costs in Mississippi has increased to 84.5% in previous COVID-19 relief laws that have become law. The state match rate averages 56.2% for all 50 states.

If the Biden legislation – the American Rescue Plan Act – is finally passed by Congress and signed into law by Biden, the matching rate for the regular Medicaid program for Mississippi could soar to nearly 90% for two years if the heads of state move decide to expand Medicaid.

So far, the Mississippi Republican political leaders, led by Governor Tate Reeves, have been vigorously opposed to the expansion of Medicaid. They claim that the state cannot afford the costs.

Under current law, the federal government pays 90% of the cost of treatment for those covered by the Medicaid Extension, and the state pays 10% of the cost. It is estimated that up to 300,000 more Mississippians could be covered if Medicaid expands in the state. Many of the people covered by the expansion would be people who work in professions that do not offer private insurance and do not earn enough to be able to afford to buy private insurance.

“We need to work to find ways to get medical care for all of Mississippi, especially in rural areas, but Medicaid’s expansion is not the answer,” Reeves said.

When the chairman of the Medicaid House at the Mississippi House, Joey Hood, R-Ackerman, was asked recently if Mississippi could approve the enlargement if the federal compliance rate for the traditional Medicaid program were increased by 5% as proposed in the legislation he said there was no need to even look at the problem until the bill becomes law.

“It still has to pass through both chambers,” said Hood.

At the start of that session, the Mississippi Senate opposed Medicaid’s expansion on a straight line with all Republicans voting no. In a recent appearance at the Stennis Institute / Capitol Press Corps at Mississippi State University, Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann, who presides over the Senate, suggests that Medicaid’s expansion could be an issue that was being investigated by senators this summer while the legislature is not in session.

“It’s no surprise … that providing health services is on my agenda for next year,” said Hosemann. “And I expect we will have public hearings on how this will go on.”

The current Mississippi Medicaid program includes mostly poor children, poor pregnant women, the disabled and the elderly, but generally no more able-bodied adults than pregnant women and a small group of caregivers.

As of February, approximately 750,000 people were enrolled in the Mississippi Medicaid program on the Division of Medicaid’s website. Another 48,200 children whose parents earn too much to be on Medicaid will be enrolled in the children’s health insurance program – another federal program.

While many heads of state argue that the state cannot afford to expand Medicaid, others claim it would save the state money while growing the economy and helping hospitals that are currently treating patients who are unable to pay. The Mississippi Hospital Association has approved a hybrid Medicaid extension that has been approved in other states.

“Mississippi will make money as we expand Medicaid,” Bryan said, even before the additional incentive in the US House COVID-19 Relief Act was revealed. “There will be more money in the treasury if we expand Medicaid than if we don’t.”

CONTINUE READING: Could Indiana’s “conservative” version of the Mississippi Medicaid add-on work?

Biden tells Congress Syria strikes are per U.S. proper to self-defense

President Joe Biden arrives at Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base in Houston, Texas, United States on February 26, 2021.

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

president Joe Biden On Saturday, Congress said the air strikes it ordered this week in Syria were in line with the U.S. right to self-defense, as members of its own party demanded more transparency about why military action was being taken without Congressional approval .

“The United States has taken this action in accordance with the United States’ right of self-defense contained in Article 51 of the United Nations Charter,” wrote Biden in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate President Patrick Leahy.

Biden on Thursday ordered air strikes against facilities in eastern Syria that Iranian-backed militias are using, according to the Pentagon. The Department of Defense said several facilities at a border checkpoint were destroyed and there were casualties, but did not provide additional information.

These strikes were in response to a February 15 attack in which missiles struck Erbil International Airport in northern Iraq, where a coalition military base is located. The attack killed a civilian contractor from the US-led military coalition and injured several others, including an American service member.

“I led this military action to protect and defend our personnel and partners from these attacks and future such attacks,” Biden wrote in his letter on Saturday.

The letter comes after some Senate Democrats pushed back over the strikes against Biden, asking him to provide information on why military action was taken without the approval of Congress. According to the resolution of the armed forces, presidents must inform Congress within 48 hours of taking military action. In the letter, Biden cited his constitutional authority as Commander-in-Chief.

“I conducted this military action consistent with my responsibility to protect the citizens of the United States at home and abroad and to advance the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States, under and as my constitutional authority to conduct United States external relations Commander in Chief and Chief Executive, ”wrote Biden.

The Pentagon informed leaders in Congress before the military Strikes, according to a spokesman for the National Security Council. House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi was also notified ahead of the strike, according to a Democratic adviser.

Iran condemned the US air strikes on Saturday and declined responsibility for the missile attacks on US targets. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the US strikes were “illegal and a violation of Syrian sovereignty,” according to Iranian state media reports.

– CNBC’s Christian Nunley and Reuters contributed to this report.