TEMPORARY EXTENSION OF PROGRAMS UNDER THE SMALL BUSINESS ACT AND THE SMALL BUSINESS INVESTMENT ACT OF 1958 -- (Senate - May 15, 2008)
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Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, on May 23, 2008, many of the Small Business Administration's programs and authorities will expire.
Unfortunately, it has become commonplace for those in the small business community to face an expiration of the programs they depend upon. Since September 30, 2006, we have had to pass four temporary extensions to keep the Small Business Administration authorized. And here we are, yet again, trying to pass a temporary bill to continue these vital small business programs--this time through March 20, 2009.
Since Democrats took the majority over a year ago, the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship has worked hard to create a good climate for small businesses in this country. To that end, we have had 20 hearings, 6 roundtables, and passed 5 major bills out of committee to address the needs of the small business community, needs which have gone unmet the past 7 years. During that time, we have often encountered obstruction from the administration and Republican congressional leadership. Despite the cooperation of the very supportive ranking member I have in Senator Olympia Snowe, who is cosponsoring this legislation, some on the other side have blocked our legislation and have blocked the appointment of conferees, which leaves us unable to conference with the House and get much-needed legislation signed into law. The Republicans, now in the minority, fear what will happen in a conference. Rather than work through differences and accomplish something, it is easier to block legislation. Who suffers from all this needless obstruction? Small business owners and their employees.
Just today, we saw how it is possible to get things done. S. 163, the Small Business Disaster Response and Loan Improvements Act of 2007, was included in the farm bill conference report. This legislation, which was adopted as an amendment to the farm bill, was then negotiated with the House as part of the farm bill conference, allowing us to enact meaningful reforms in the way the Small Business Administration comes to the aid of disaster victims.
My hope is that once we have this extender bill in place, the administration and the Republican leadership will realize that five temporary authorizations are five too many and allow our committee to do what it has been attempting to do, which is to do a comprehensive reauthorization of the rest of the small business programs. Therefore, I urge my colleagues to pass this temporary bill and then give us the support we need for a comprehensive reauthorization of small business programs.