Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is pushing back against the GOP's Monday-revealed proposal to the coronavirus pandemic and economic crisis, the HEALS Act. With the nation dealing with an unprecedented crisis that has left millions out of work, Schumer slammed the "three-martini business lunch" provision included in the bill, dubbed the Supporting America's Restaurant Workers Act.
The Senate Republican plan doesn’t give another dime in food assistance for kids who are going hungry.
But it makes sure the three-martini business lunch is safe.
They need to get their priorities in order. https://t.co/hkekBDjUNr— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) July 29, 2020
According to The Hill, nestled among provisions — such as an additional round of stimulus checks, extended (but lower) unemployment benefit enhancements, and funding for schools — is a provision that would allow taxpayers to deduct 100 percent of the costs of business meals through the end of the year if the meals are from restaurants. The provision, according to Republican Sen. Tim Scott, who introduced it, "will lead to more customers, more opportunities for hardworking waitstaff and kitchen staff, and much needed revenue for small businesses across the country."
Schumer is not the only one to question the provision, which many believe takes away valuable aid that could be better put toward other issues that have arisen amid the pandemic. In a statement, Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Texas, a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee, claimed that such a provision would be "the latest example of a tax provision tailor-made to benefit the Trump family finding its way into major tax legislation."
We need to get something done to help families who are afraid of losing their homes.
We need to get something done that keeps kids from going hungry.
But Senate Republicans REALLY, SERIOUSLY want to make sure that there’s a tax deduction for three martini business lunches.— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) July 28, 2020
While assuring a "three-martini business lunch" provision — at least in Schumer's words — the HEALS Act does not expand the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). It also fails to extend the Pandemic EBT program, which expired at the end of June and offered a debit-card benefit for households with children who have temporarily lost access to free or reduced-price school meals, according to the Washington Post. An analysis of the Census Bureau's weekly household data survey in early July found that approximately 26 million adults reported going without enough food to eat in the previous week, and roughly one in three low-income families have reported experiencing food insecurity in the last 30 days.
The GOP's failure to provide food security amid the pandemic, which has resulted in unemployment levels not seen since the Great Depression, "is deeply disappointing," Lisa Davis, senior vice president of Share Our Strength, a hunger charity, said. In response, a coalition of hunger groups has called on Congress not to adjourn until they strengthen SNAP and extend Pandemic EBT.