BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
Mr. PRYOR. Madam President, I wish to thank Senator Landrieu and Senator Snowe for their efforts to get this bill to the floor, to handle these amendments, and to show the leadership we need to try to really focus on and emphasize small business.
I am convinced that if we are going to get the full economic recovery we all want to see, the private sector--and especially small business--is going to have to drive that recovery. That brings me to the amendment that I have filed today and that I have called up.
In 2007, there were roughly 25,000 veteran-owned small businesses in my State. So you can do the math on that. There are probably 2 million around the country or more--maybe 3 million veteran-owned small businesses around the country.
In 2007, the SBA created the Patriot Express Pilot Loan Initiative for members of the military community. That is part of the 7(a) program. My amendment would move that Patriot Express loan program from a pilot program to a fully authorized one, and this would ensure that veterans and members of the military community continue to have the ability to access capital when starting a new business or even when operating an existing one.
The Patriot Express pilot program has been a very successful program, issuing close to 7,000 loans valued at $560 million and increasing veteran participation in the SBA programs. The amendment would make the Patriot Express loan program available to all members of the military community, including Active and non-Active members, veterans, spouses and children, widows and widowers of servicemembers. It would increase the maximum loan amount from $500,000 to $1 million. It would guarantee rates would be 85 percent for loans of $500,000 or less and 80 percent for loans over $500,000 up to $1 million. It would also reduce the fees imposed by the SBA for all veterans to 75 percent of the fees otherwise applicable under the 7(a) and express programs.
This is a way we can really help our men and women in uniform. And one of the reasons I think this particular pilot program has been a success is because obviously these folks are hard-working, they are disciplined, they are well trained, and they are serious because of what they have been through for our country. But also one of the reasons I think this is compelling is that they have given years of their lives to military service. If they are in the Reserve or National Guard, these can be very disruptive years. It is hard for them to get anything going and in some cases hard to maintain a job over a period of years because they are being deployed, they are back and forth doing the training and fulfilling the requirements the country has required of them. So it is a very disruptive time during what otherwise would be potentially strong earning years where they could be really building their businesses.
So this pilot program has been very effective and successful in providing access to capital, speeding the process along for our men and women in uniform, and we want to encourage small business ownership, we want to encourage that innovation, and I think this is a great way to do it. Again, this is a program that has been on the books, has proven to be successful, and we certainly hope we can move it from a pilot program to a fully authorized program.
With that, Madam President, I yield the floor.
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT