SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION'S DISASTER LOANS PROGRAM SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATIONS, 2006 -- (House of Representatives - February 15, 2006)
Mr. LARSON of Connecticut. Mr. Speaker, I rise today concerned that H.R. 4745, legislation making a supplemental appropriation for the Small Business Administration disaster loan program, is another example of the continued mismanagement of the Gulf Coast recovery effort.
This $712 million supplemental comes before us today as we discover that the SBA will completely run out of funding for disaster loans sometime in the next week. It is clear that the $441 million previously appropriated to this program was far from adequate to meet demand for the loans. As a result, the SBA has approved only 37 percent of the 280,000 disaster loan applications the agency has received and is facing a backlog of over 105,000 applications. Of the loans approved, only 10 percent have been actually paid to the homeowners and small businesses that are relying on this critical funding to rebuild their livelihoods in the wake of this unprecedented natural disaster.
How this administration could so grossly underestimate the need for these loans is beyond me. From the very beginning, the response by our Government to this disaster has been wholly inadequate--and this shortfall is just another sad example of the consequences of the poor planning, lack of leadership and incompetence demonstrated in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Rebuilding the Gulf Coast is going to take a long term commitment of will and resources by the Federal Government. Yet, time and again, this administration has failed to level with Congress and the American people on the full costs needed to support the rebuilding effort.
The needs of the families, small business and communities of the Gulf Coast are too important to be shortchanged by estimation errors or budgetary gimmicks. I hope that any Katrina legislation this Congress may consider in the next few months includes a full accounting of the funding truly needed to meet our commitment to the Gulf Coast.