U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta (R, PA-11) today called on Senate leaders to move quickly on the Disaster Loan Fairness Act of 2012 in order to provide long-overdue relief to disaster victims throughout the nation.
Barletta sent letters to the leadership of the Senate asking that legislative body to consider and pass HR 6296 quickly so some of his constituents who are recovering from historic flooding can receive a lower interest rate and a refund from the federal government.
"Victims cannot afford to wait for the Senate to delay passing the Disaster Loan Fairness Act. Homeowners are still struggling to rebuild their lives. Business owners are still struggling to recover from their losses. In this economy, lowering the interest rates of disaster loans and refunding the overpayments would dramatically help victims when they need it most. The Senate needs to act -- and act quickly," Rep. Barletta said. "I call on the Senate leadership to act quickly on this bill and provide the people of the 11th District, the people of Pennsylvania, and disaster victims all across the United States the relief they desperately need."
After flooding caused by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, from October 1, 2011, through August 31, 2012, the U.S. Small Business Administration issued disaster loans totaling $32,979,000 to 510 homeowners and business owners in Rep. Barletta's district.
SBA disaster loans granted to 11th District residents account for almost one fifth of all SBA disaster loans issued in Pennsylvania (2,570 loans), and almost one third of the amount of money loaned ($103,370,200 loaned) because of flooding associated with those two storms.
The Disaster Loan Fairness Act, which Rep. Barletta sponsored and which passed the House on Wednesday night, would lower the interest rates of disaster loans issued by the U.S. Small Business Administration to victims of presidentially declared disasters, including Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. The rates would be half of the prevailing rate for victims who cannot receive credit elsewhere and three-quarters of the prevailing rate for those who can receive credit elsewhere; interest rates would be capped at a maximum of 4 percent.
Additionally, the bill is retroactive, so those who received SBA disaster loans after a presidential disaster declaration since January 1, 2011, will have the interest rates of their loans lowered, and they will receive a rebate from the federal government. The bill provides relief to disaster victims by cutting public funding for political conventions and redirecting that money towards lowering the interest rate on SBA disaster loans.
"I think we can all agree -- Republicans and Democrats, representatives and senators -- that helping victims of natural disasters is more important that throwing political party conventions at taxpayer expense," Rep. Barletta said. "This bill could be a great bipartisan effort in both the House and the Senate that provides real relief for current and future disaster victims."
Congressman Barletta's bill is supported by the National Association of Manufacturers, the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association, and the National Federation of Independent Business.