Minnesota Senator and former presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar has introduced a bill called the Save Our Stages Act to help struggling performing arts venues, which she says have been particularly hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
"One of the things that we have seen is that some of the first businesses to close and some of the last to reopen are going to be music venues and theaters," Klobuchar told Cheddar.
The bill would direct Small Business Administration grants to eligible venues, permit recipients to use the money for a broad array of costs such as rent, utilities, taxes, and maintenance, and appropriate an extra $10 billion for the program.
The Democratic senator stressed that the extra support is needed for venues, especially those located outside major cities that have a deeper bench of entertainment options.
"It's not just Austin, as cool as their music scene. It's not just Nashville. It is also some of these mid-sized cities who have one music venue or one theater that people go to all the time," she said. "We do not want to let the music die during this pandemic. Enough people have died without letting the music die."
So far, the legislation has bipartisan support with nine Republican senators signing on.
But whether the bill gets rolled into a more comprehensive relief package remains to be seen.
"I never give up hope," Klobuchar said. "Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi and Senator [Chuck] Schumer in the last real negotiation said, 'We'll meet you halfway,' and then [Republicans] still balked and walked away."
She said Congress should anticipate at least another six to eight months of dealing with this outbreak, which means businesses, such as music venues, have a long haul ahead of them before they can reopen.
"You can't go stand in a mosh pit in the middle of a pandemic," she said.