With Congress set to reconvene this week after its long July 4th vacation, it’s a good time to take a look at how small businesses have fared under Democratic rule so far in the first legislative session since they regained power.You may recall, Democrats ended a decade of Republican rule during last year’s midterm elections. At the time, the Small Business Administration’s bungling of post-Katrina hurricane aid was still fresh in the minds of voters. With the Bush administration small business record in shambles, none of the key Republican congressional candidates endorsed by the National Federation of Independent Business won office or held onto their seats.
By winning control of Congress, Democrats had a rare chance to gain ground among
Global Warming: Senate small business committee Chairman John Kerry, D-Mass., and ranking minority member Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, teamed up to attach amendments to a major environmental bill, the Clean Energy Act (H.R. 6), to help small businesses become more energy efficient. Among the key provisions, it gives the SBA a 90-day deadline to draft an energy efficiency program. It was required to do so in 2005, but never got around to it. It also creates loans for small firms to invest in use of renewable sources of energy in their business.
Minority Businesses: Just before it recessed for the holiday, Congress approved four bills aimed at boosting SBA support for minority-owned businesses. One measure will help small businesses cope with rising health care and energy costs by expanding assistance provided by Small Business Development Centers. Women-owned businesses, veterans and Native American-owned businesses also received a boost from bills that expand services at
SBA Budget: What President Bush took away, Congress restored—and then some—in the Small Business Administration’s budget. The 20 percent House-approved increase earmarks $582 million for the troubled agency, about $117 million more than the administration requested. The Bush White House has cut SBA funding every year since it took office. The biggest increase targets $80 million to roll back Bush Administration fee increases for the agency’s flagship 7(a) loan program. The administration is expected to fight the increase when the SBA budget authorization goes before the Senate later this year.