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Mr. BURRIS. I want to echo the sentiments of the distinguished Senator from Oregon. His comments are very well taken.
I also rise to support the distinguished Senator from the great State of Louisiana in her efforts to deal with this amendment to add to the small business legislation, of getting this $30 billion out to the community banks so they can put those dollars in the communities.
For the past 2 years, this country has been held in the grips of an unprecedented economic crisis.
The housing market collapsed. The bottom dropped out of Wall Street. And for the first time in generations, many Americans felt their hard-earned economic security begin to slip away.
Here in Washington, Members of the House and Senate were faced with a harsh reality: For decades, regulators and policymakers alike had fallen short of their responsibilities. A divisive political process drove them to duck the tough issues, and kick the can down the road, time and time again.
This failure of regulation, and the absence of political will, allowed Wall Street fat cats to let their greed get the better of them. They gambled with our economic future. They designed complicated financial products and placed high-stakes bets against them. In short, they built a house of cards, and when it finally came crashing down, the American economy lay in ruins.
There can be no quick fixes after a disaster of this magnitude. But under President Obama's leadership, our elected leaders finally took the bull by the horns and did what was necessary to stop the bleeding, and set our country back on the road to recovery.
I was proud to join many of my colleagues in supporting the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act--a landmark stimulus bill that helped reverse the rising tide of economic misfortune. Thanks to this legislation, and to the landmark legislation that was signed into law just yesterday, that created the most sweeping reform of Wall Street since the Great Depression, we are on the road to recovery. But as anyone in this chamber can tell you, the real key to a full recovery is jobs. And no sector of this economy creates jobs more effectively than small businesses.
Long before I ever entered public service, I was a banker. I know firsthand what it takes to support our small business community because I have done it.
This is a time for bold action. Not pointless ideological battles. This is a time to move forward, not back. So I call upon my colleagues to seize this opportunity. Let's keep America on the road to recovery and restore the hard-earned security of ordinary folks and small business owners who are in desperate need of help.
We should start by increasing our support for small businesses, especially those owned by disadvantaged and minority individuals. These companies foster progress and innovation. They have the power to create jobs, and direct investment to local communities, where it can have the greatest impact.
Small businesses form the backbone of our economy, but in many ways, they have suffered the most as a result of this economic crisis. It is no secret that minority-owned businesses, particularly those in poor or urban areas, have been hit hardest by the current economic downturn. That is why these are the areas we should target for our strongest support.
We can rely on a proven initiative to inject new life into disadvantaged areas. So I would ask my colleagues to support the Small Business Lending Act. I would ask them to reject the tired politics that got us into this mess, and embrace the spirit of bipartisanship that can lead us out.
On behalf of small and minority-owned businesses, I call upon this body to take action. Our economic future may be uncertain, but with the Small Business Lending Act, we have the rare opportunity to influence that future.
So let's pass this measure, to guarantee some degree of relief for the people who continue to suffer the most.
Let's renew our investments in America's small businesses, and rely on them to drive our economic recovery.
And let's do so today.
I have financed them from scratch. They would walk in to me and say, look, I got an idea. I love to do this. Let's get a business plan together. Where do they get the capital from to create the jobs that are needed? They get it from the bank giving them credit, taking some equity from them, getting some investment from them. That is what I have done.
I stand on this floor, with successful lending from banks to small companies. It created jobs. Some of them are still in business today, some 40 years later. Some of them have been sold off and bought off by big Fortune 500 companies. They were able to start from scratch.
I know what it takes in a small community to lend to small businesses. Now we are up here talking about, we are not going to put in resources. This is not going to cost us any money. The taxpayers are due to support these types of efforts. That is what we are here for. The purpose of government is to do for those which they cannot do for themselves.
Now we are debating on this floor whether we are going to put the money into helping small businesses, give it to the banks to lend to the small businesses, so they can then go out and hire people. This ought to be a no-nonsense vote. It makes no sense what we are doing on this floor, debating this issue at this time, when this economy is in this condition.
So having lent money to small businesses, having been a banker, where your stripes depended on many good loans you made, I have been there, and I support this legislation 100 percent. If we can put those resources into those banks, that will then put them into the community, the banks are not going to be out there giving this money away. This is not charity. It is going make money for us. So let us wise up. Let us make sure we support this amendment, pass it now, and get on to the business of helping small businesses.
I yield the floor.
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