LEGISLATIVE AND APPROPRIATIONS PROCESS -- (Senate - December 05, 2007)
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Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, today the Senate tried to call up and pass an amended version of S. 1662, the Small Business Venture Capital Act of 2007. There was objection to the bill based on a concern that it reauthorized the SBA's Small Business Investment Company Participating Securities program, a program which the Office of Management and Budget has predicted will have losses of about $3 billion.
The amendment pending before the full Senate does not reauthorize the SBIC Participating Securities program. That provision was taken out of the bill in October when the committee first circulated the proposed amendment to colleagues and the parties notified their members that the committee would like to pass the bill by unanimous consent.
Equity financing like the SBIC Participating Securities program is important to the continuum of small business financing, and testimony before our committee this summer emphasized the need for a reformed program to fill the void left by the private sector. However, as the report to S. 1662 clarifies, Congress could not find common ground with the administration on reforming the program and so the committee included a token reauthorization amount to signal to the business community that it understood the need for small equity investments and that there was support for the Small Business Investment Company program in general.
The bill reauthorizes through 2010 the Small Business Investment Company Debenture program, and the New Markets Venture Capital program. Venture capital is a critical driver of our economy and job creation. Since the creation of the SBIC program almost 50 years ago, the country has benefited from hundreds of thousands of jobs. Some examples of success stories include businesses that are now household names--Calaway Golf, Intel, Jenny Craig, Outback Steakhouse, and Federal Express. Through the SBA's New Markets Venture Capital program, which has only been making investments for a couple of years, businesses in areas with the highest national employment, such as in the Appalachia region of Kentucky, have gotten access to more than $48 million in patient investment capital and created hundreds of jobs with sustainable wages and health care benefits. Senator SNOWE and I worked with the SBA in drafting S. 1662, and the committee of jurisdiction adopted it unanimously--by a vote of 19 to 0.
Further, we understand concerns about moving legislation last minute and we try to avoid that. In this case, our committee voted out this bill in June, giving colleagues with concerns more than 5 months to review the legislation. And in anticipation of moving this bill by unanimous consent committee staff reached out to other offices in October. We have tried for 6 weeks to discuss the bill and identify any possible concerns. We gave those offices copies of the bill, the report, the CBO cost estimate, explained what was in the amendment to be hotlined, and provided a copy of the revised CBO cost estimate that reflected striking the section that reauthorized the SBIC participating securities program and the section that triggered direct spending. The bill has a very modest cost, reduces the historic authorization levels, and has the potential to have a very positive impact on the economy, through investment and job creation. We would be happy to work with our colleagues to try and clarify any other misunderstandings and to work through any substantive concerns. I ask unanimous consent that a copy of the amendment be printed in the RECORD.
There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows:
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