RELIEF FOR ENTREPRENEURS: COORDINATION OF OBJECTIVES AND VALUES FOR EFFECTIVE RECOVERY ACT OF 2007
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Mr. BAKER. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentlewoman for yielding time.
I wish to express concern about the operative effects of the gentleman's amendment. For many outside the storm impact area, you would not have an understanding of how processes work. But if you were eligible under the Road Home program, that was the federally funded program to assist people to return to their homes, the maximum allowable money that you could receive regardless of your circumstance was $150,000. But under current rule, if you are eligible for $150,000 and you, for example, had purchased Federal flood insurance in the amount of $150,000 and got paid $150,000 pursuant to the flood insurance premium, you would get nothing out of the Road Home program. Because of that inequitable application of benefits, this House has already voted to eliminate the duplication of benefits in the flood insurance area.
Now what is being suggested by the underlying bill is we should do the same thing with regard to an SBA loan. The argument here is even more persuasive. The person may have entered into the SBA obligation far in advance of the onslaught of Katrina. It might be several hundred thousand dollars of loans that were made available to this individual through the SBA.
Under the current rule, any assistance that might be offered to that homeowner who happened to have the SBA loan would all go back to repaying the SBA obligation.
So get the picture. The Federal Government puts a stamp on the check, drops it in the mailbox and sends it to the house. But before it gets there, another Federal agent picks it up and hauls it over and deposits it at the SBA. Do you see where the hole is in this argument? No money at all gets to the affected individual.
So what the bill now provides is that without increasing the overall expenditure, the money made available to assist people via Katrina and Rita has been appropriated by the Congress. It is over, that is it. We are talking about available resources, not new dollars.
Secondly, once the money gets to the individual, the individual is still capped by the rules of the Road Home program, and that is, there shall be no enrichment above that $150,000 level. This is a reasonable proposal. It will enable people to recover appropriately from the disaster which is so overwhelming.
I suggest if any still have doubt whether this level of assistance is required and justifiable, walk the streets of New Orleans, as I did this past weekend. Sure, the business district and the French Quarter look terrific. The shops are empty, the restaurants aren't full and people are not coming back. But get out into the neighborhoods where the devastation still exists. We need this help, and we need it now.
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