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Public Statements

Small Business Lending Fund Act Of 2010

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. CANTWELL. Mr. President, I thank my colleague, Senator Landrieu, for her fight and vigor today, trying to break a logjam here on the Senate floor and to pass important small business legislation.

When you think of Louisiana and you think of the Saints, you think of the people there who have such spirit. If there were a time in our country's history when small business ever needed a patron saint, it was at the crisis of 2008. Senator Landrieu and the Small Business Committee have become a leader and voice for small business in America. I thank her for that, for that same fight she put into making sure her constituents received help and support in the post-Katrina catastrophe, the same fight she displays now, making sure the gulf is addressed and that there are resources put in for cleanup. She is putting up that same fight for the millions of Americans who are trying to get access to capital for their small businesses.

We are only talking about three basic things in this bill, all to help small business. We are talking about tax credits to make sure that items such as equipment and machinery get some little support so small businesses will make some more investments. We are talking about tried and true programs such as the 7(a) loan program and the 504 loan program and the enhancements of those programs to put more capital out onto the streets. We have already pointed out because we have allowed this enhancement to expire that we have seen a 60-percent reduction in June of the amount of money accessible for small businesses, below 2008 levels.

Is that what we want to do, suppress capital to small business by 60 percent below 2008? In the month of August, if we do not get this legislation passed, there will be $760 million less available for small business.

I know some of my colleagues are saying let this keep going, Republicans will keep voting against cloture and we will do business in September. It is not acceptable to wait until September to help small businesses that need access to capital today. I wish people would listen to the heartbreak in America of small businesses. When the crisis happened in 2008--many of those people are resourceful people. That is why they start small businesses. So what did they do when the crisis happened? They buckled down; they tried to figure out how to make adjustments in their businesses. They borrowed money from relatives. They borrowed from their 401 programs. They did everything they possibly could to hang on for a year.

Contrast that to Wall Street. Wall Street didn't even have to hang on for 1 day before they got help from the Treasury. Not even what Congress did; the Treasury was over there helping people before they even asked for help. Nobody did that for small business in America. So these people have waited over a year to get this help. They hung on with their savings and their investments for 1 year.

In January they were ready to go with these programs and these support systems and wanted to see the access to capital, but they did not see that. Not only did they not see these program enhancements like we wanted, such as the recapitalization of community banks, instead, they saw their community bankers tell them: We are canceling your performing line of credit.

People did everything to hang on. They did everything they could to hang on. I could tell you stories that are heartbreaking about restaurants, about small businesses that closed their doors after 30 years of being in business--closed their doors because they could not hang on anymore.

The question for my colleagues on the other side of the aisle is how many more businesses are going to close? How many more people are going to lose their jobs if we do not address this issue and break this deadlock and make sure we are voting on access to capital for small businesses on Main Street? Calculate it. They have already been holding on. They cannot hold on much longer.

Every day that goes by that we do not reauthorize this advancement in the 7(a) program, we are costing dollars, we are costing small business access to capital they used to have. It is not even new capital in some cases; it is capital they used to have but it got canceled out from under them because of what happened on Wall Street.

It is time for my colleagues to show the same level of urgency for small business, to show we understand that these individuals in America have been hanging on. Listen, they are what makes America a great country because they are such entrepreneurs and they have done everything they can to weather this storm. But it is time to put down the ``no'' votes on moving ahead and move to getting this product, the enhancement of 7(a) and the 504 and the capital and recapitalization of community banks, off the Senate floor and get it signed before the House adjourns. That is what we need to do to create jobs now, in August. If you do not want to do that, you are going to be costing many more Americans their livelihood.

I yield the floor.


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