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Trump Is Holding the New Stimulus Bill Hostage, and Restaurant Workers Will Suffer for It

The president says he’ll resume negotiations “immediately after I win” the election

Wearing a navy suit and tie, Donald Trump salutes in front of a row of American flags outside the White House. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images
Jaya Saxena is a Correspondent at, and the series editor of Best American Food and Travel Writing. She explores wide ranging topics like labor, identity, and food culture.

At the end of September, House Democrats passed a new version of the HEROES Act, a revised bill that would not only provide new stimulus checks now that everyone has used up the $1,200 they got (or didn’t get) in May, but would also include $120 billion in grants for restaurants, bars, and food trucks. Though it is a potential beacon of hope for the restaurant industry, as well as other sectors, President Donald Trump has asked his “representatives” (presumably meaning Republican members of Congress) to stop negotiating a new stimulus bill, tweeting that talks would resume “immediately after I win” the election.

Should he win, Trump said, “We will pass a major Stimulus Bill that focuses on hardworking Americans and Small Business,” but lambasted the $2.2 trillion HEROES Act. And while there was little chance that the bill would have passed through the Senate as is, Trump has chosen to use the stimulus package as a hostage scenario, and it’s working Americans — like restaurant and food supply workers — who will suffer.

Earlier this week, the Independent Restaurant Coalition urged the Senate to pass the HEROES Act, stating the grant program “would deliver critical aid to 500,000 independent restaurants and the 11 million workers they directly employ.” Employment has been “down by 2.3 million since February” in the restaurant industry, which, according to the IRC, is a higher number than any other industry. By dangling the possibility of aid as a pitiful reward for another Trump victory, the president is prioritizing his own fame and power over the needs of millions of people, like he always does. This is the disheartening culmination of months of frustration and sadness for the restaurant industry.

At this point, what the hell are we supposed to do? For months, businesses have been left without guidance or aid, with owners and workers calculating the risk of operating during a pandemic. Some workers are afraid for their own health and safety but have been working anyway in order to pay bills. Ordering takeout isn’t enough, tipping 40 percent isn’t enough, giving to GoFundMes isn’t enough, yelling at senators and governors isn’t enough. That’s not to say there’s no use in trying, but this isn’t a problem anyone can solve on an individual level — not restaurant owners, not employees, not customers.

“[Trump] shows his contempt for science, his disdain for our heroes — in health care, first responders, sanitation, transportation, food workers, teachers, and others — and he refuses to put money in workers’ pockets, unless his name is printed on the check,” Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. And don’t forget to tack on his aggressive assault on the Affordable Care Act, which many restaurant workers rely on in, especially in an industry without many health care offerings.

As the news cycle has shown, anything can happen in the month leading up to the election, so who knows if he’ll stand by this threat or move on to another in a day or two. But restaurant workers don’t have the time to wait out Trump’s game of political chicken.

This just sucks. That’s it, that’s the tweet.