Kerry Opening Statement at Organizational Meeting for the 110th Congress
I want to thank Senator Snowe for her fine leadership of this Committee for the last four years. There have been many more areas of agreement during that time than disagreement as we have worked together on small business health care, contracting oversight, SBIR, access to capital, and entrepreneurial development programs. Not to mention the many small business initiatives we have advanced in the Finance Committee where we both serve. During the 109th Congress, we worked together to confirm new leadership at the SBA, we advocated for increased funding for SBA, fought to protect existing women's business centers, saved the microloan program, expanded disaster assistance for businesses hurt by drought and worked to expand access to affordable small business health care. We succeed in passing a bipartisan small business reauthorization bill out of the Committee and, although it stalled in the Senate, it has laid the groundwork for reauthorization of all the major small business programs which must be completed this year. We worked closely together on disaster reauthorization, joining with Senators Landrieu and Vitter to get assistance to the small businesses in the Gulf Coast, and we are still working together to make critical changes to the disaster loan program so that the dysfunctional response we saw down there will not happen again.
This Committee has a long tradition of working in a bipartisan way to get things done and I look forward to continuing in that tradition. It is my intention that we hold hearings in the Committee in the coming weeks on a wide range of issues including veterans entrepreneurship, small business health care, and the role small business can play in reducing global warming. We intend to have aggressive oversight of federal contracting as it relates to small business. And we intend to examine lending oversight at the SBA.
I want to extend a warm welcome to our new members, Senators Cardin, Tester and Corker, and Senator Dole, who is unable to be here today but who joins the Committee in this Congress. This Committee often looks to the energy and ideas of its junior members and so we encourage your participation and look forward to learning about the challenges facing small businesses in your states.
Now, let's turn to the business at hand. We promised that this meeting would be quick as there are a number of other hearings today. Let me ask the staff directors of our Committee, Naomi Baum for the Majority, and Wally Hsueh for the Minority, to present the rules for the 110th Congress and the budget resolution. I appreciate the cooperative way our staffs have worked together on the rules and the budget resolution, and as soon as we have a quorum of ten I would recommend that we move to an immediate vote.