House Extends Small Business Programs
By Joseph J. Schatz, CQ Staff
The House voted Wednesday to temporarily extend soon-to-expire small business programs while making more firms eligible for government loans and increasing the amount of capital they can raise through a Clinton-era program.
The bill (HR 3614) was passed 417-2, and is yet another legislative stopgap for the Small Business Administration, an agency for which the House and Senate Small Business Committees have long been trying to negotiate a long-term reauthorization.
Lawmakers have been unable to agree on the specifics of a new charter for the agency, so it has been operating under a series of short-term extensions since 2006. Legislation enacted in July (PL 111-43) extended the Small Business Innovation Research program.
Certain SBA programs are set to expire Sept 30. The House bill (HR 3614) would keep the program, authorized through Oct. 31.
Small Business Committee Chairwoman Nydia M. Velázquez, D-N.Y., said “in coming weeks, the committee will continue working to update the SBA’s programs. In the meantime, this legislation extends these initiatives and makes two critical changes to help small businesses.”
In addition, the bill would modify the America’s Recovery Capital loan program, established in the economic stimulus law (PL 111-5) earlier this year, which extends interest-free loans to small businesses. The bill would allow small businesses to use loans from the program to pay down existing debt on other government-guaranteed loans they may have, such as 7(a) loans in effect increasing the number of firms eligible for the program.
The bill would modify the capital limits in the New Markets Venture Capital program, enacted in 2000, which provides investment capital to small businesses in low-income area. The bill would increase the amount of money a single New Market Venture Capital company would be allowed to invest in any single small firm, effectively allowing small businesses in the program to raise more capital.
Velazquez said the change would ensure “that more capital will flow to disadvantaged businesses.”
Richard Carbo, a deputy press secretary for the Senate Small Business Committee, said the Senate panel may make modifications to the House-passed bill and send it back.
Carbo said the “House has refused to sit down with us for the past two months” to negotiate a broader reauthorization bill.
A a spokesman for House Small Business Committee Democrats disputed that and said “we look forward to continuing working with our Senate counterparts once they’ve passed their legislation.”