John Kerry Offers Major Package of Legislation to Help Small Businesses, Others Devastated by Hurricane Katrina

A few days ago we heard from John Kerry as he reached out to his email list and asked for supporters to donate to the Red Cross to help victims of Hurricane Katrina. Kerry said in his email, “I plan to work in coming days to find more ways that we can help joining with my colleagues in the Senate to support those who have lost so much and those working so hard to help them.

I just received the following Press Release from John Kerry’s Senate office, detailing what John Kerry has been working on in the past few days. This legislation sponsored today on the Senate Floor, addresses far reaching aid that the Bush administration has neglected to address.

NOTE: While it’s great to hear so many Democratic leaders speaking out loudly against the Bush administration and their total mishandling of Katrina, it’s important to keep in perspective that there is work to be done, long term work, to help the people affected by Katrina. This legislation addresses the needs of so many.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: John Kerry Offers Major Package of Legislation to Help Small Businesses, Others Devastated by Hurricane Katrina

WASHINGTON – With estimates that more than 400,000 jobs will be lost as a result of Hurricane Katrina, Senator John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) today unveiled a package of emergency economic aid and federal assistance for small businesses and others reeling from the destruction in the Gulf Coast.

“It is clear that our government failed the people of the Gulf Coast. In time, those responsible will be held accountable for what has gone right and what has gone wrong. Right now, we need to make up for lost time and help any way we can, and that means targeting the fastest relief possible,” said Senator Kerry. “Every small business we can help will help a hard-working family start to put the pieces of their lives back together. We should help small businesses rebuild themselves and these communities.”

Senator Kerry is the Ranking Member of the Senate Small Business Committee. He will offer this small business-related relief package today with his colleague Mary Landrieu (D-La.) as an amendment to the Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Bill currently pending in the Senate. A vote on the measure is expected next week. Kerry authored a similar assistance package to small businesses recovering in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

One of the most far-reaching pieces of the Kerry relief package will give small businesses across the country access to low-interest disaster loans to cope with the increased costs of oil and gas. This will especially benefit farmers, truck drivers and others whose livelihood relies heavily on the price of gas.

In addition, the Kerry relief package also provides small businesses in the Gulf Region:
· Access to short-term loans that will be rapidly approved to help businesses that are waiting for SBA loan approval begin rebuilding immediately

· A two-year assumption of payments and interest on loans provided through the Small Business Administration (SBA) for working capital and fixed asset loans, known as 7(a) and 504 loans, to help small businesses that are unable to make payments with their existing loans
· A two-year deferral on the interest and payments for SBA disaster loans
· Access to 30 percent of all federal contracts and 40 percent of subcontracting dollars

· Expanded Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) status, which gives small businesses in the area a preference when bidding on federal contracts

· Increased counseling and business assistance provided through the SBA’s entrepreneurial development centers, including Small Business Development Centers, SCORE, Women’s Business Centers, and Veterans Business Outreach Centers

· Greater opportunities for small construction companies to receive SBA bonding assistance, which is a type of financial loss insurance on the contract

· The ability to refinance existing disaster loans and existing business debt with low-interest disaster loans

Kerry is offering additional hurricane-response legislation, including:

Improve Coordination, Planning, and Execution of Disaster Plans: Senator Kerry is offering legislation to improve several steps, including formalizing the National Guard’s role in the homeland security mission, by creating a Standing Joint Task Force commanded by a National Guard officer responsible for coordinating preparedness and response between the national, state and local governments involved. Given the National Guard’s unique responsibilities to both federal and state governments, it is well-positioned to coordinate the planning and execution of disaster contingencies whether caused by an act of nature or an act of terrorism. Moreover, the Department of Homeland Security currently lacks a deliberative planning process, like that used in the Department of Defense, which is essential for disaster response.

FEMA Regional Emergency Evacuation and Preparedness Centers: The response to Hurricane Katrina has revealed serious shortcomings in planning and infrastructure for disaster preparedness and relief. Thousands of displaced Americans are living in sports arenas and National Guard armories. Instead of relying on ad hoc solutions and improvisation, the federal government should establish regional facilities to help prepare the federal response and assist the citizens affected by disasters – whether natural or man-made. In the event of disaster, these facilities will provide temporary or, if necessary, long-term shelter for displaced persons. Medical supplies and facilities at each site can treat people in need of care. Functional spaces, including the capacity for plug-and-play data and communications networks will facilitate the provision of all types of disaster relief services.

Helping Deployed National Guard and Reserve Troops: Tens of thousands of troops have been called up for service in Afghanistan, Iraq and now the Gulf Coast. Many of these troops are in the National Guard and Reserves, and when they’re called to active duty, they and their employers struggle financially. Senator Kerry’s proposal would provide tax credits to small businesses employers of National Guard and Reserve members called up to help lessen the burden on small businesses, our troops and their families.

Help Youth Rebuild Their Communities: YouthBuild is a federal program that helps disadvantaged young people learn responsibility, leadership and a skill by working with their peers to build homes in their communities. YouthBuild is an ideal program to help the young people of the Gulf Coast, who will need employment and whose community has been severely damaged. Senator Kerry strongly believes the recovery effort in the Gulf Coast could be dramatically helped by an expansion of the YouthBuild program in the region, and his legislation expands the program as part of the long-term response and recovery effort.

Providing Housing as Part of Long-Term Recovery: Senator Kerry believes that the federal government should take an active role in the rebuilding of the thousands of homes and apartments destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Two housing production proposals he has authored are ideally designed to help those in the Gulf region who have lost their homes. First, the National Affordable Housing Trust Fund Act will create an affordable housing production program for those who most need assistance. Second, the Community Development Homeownership Tax Credit Act will encourage the construction and substantial rehabilitation of approximately 500,000 homes for low- and moderate-income families in economically distressed areas over the next 10 years. Both bills can provide critically needed housing and help the long-term recovery of the region.

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16 Responses to John Kerry Offers Major Package of Legislation to Help Small Businesses, Others Devastated by Hurricane Katrina

  1. Ginny in CO says:

    There you have it. JK: substance over talk all the way.

    Makes me think of John Adams – a biography well worth reading.

  2. Nick says:

    Ginny,

    Is that the David McCullough book on Adams? I’ve heard good things about that book, but I’ve never read it.

  3. Indie Liberal says:

    Cool. Thanks for posting this Pam. 🙂

  4. Marjorie G says:

    To the rescue in a substantive way. Just as he was correct in the steps to avoid more catastrophe in Iraq. As I read and think what might have been, I then go to Zogby’s story for more opportunity to hear how terrible he was, would have been, and how Dean would have been better. Thank you to Ron for trying to bring reason, as always, not only over there.

    Whatever one’s opinion of how great a candidate, or after an honest debate about how some things went wrong, when will people realize the opposition and media to the extent to cut him and the campaign some slack.

    If anything he is manly, strong, enlightened, and an emotional grown-up, with empathy up the gazoo. Grand moves and anger does not a President make, especially when the press is creating and decontructing a first impression.

  5. Marjorie

    What was Zogby thinking to even post that at a time like this? Very disappointing.

    I’m very proud of JK today. He set the bar for what needs to be done.

  6. Ginny in CO says:

    Nick,

    Yes, that’s the one I read. Adams is truly one of the unacknowledged work horses of the Independence movement and our early years as a country.

    McCullough does with the whole picture what I think Richard Clarke did in “Against All Enemies”. He enlarges it to include both the well known and unknowns that ALL put in incredible efforts to bring about the successful creation of a country and the
    degree to which a small, experienced and committed group worked to bring the 9/11 tragedy to a halt and begin rescue operations.*

    Definitely worth the read to also bring into focus the values we were founded on and the men – and women- who fought for them. Jefferson’s irresponsible spending habits and the tragedy of his personal life are interesting insights into the man. Starkly contrasted with Adam’s being that era’s Dukakis/ Kerry intelligent New England spartan.

    It amazes me how people have the idea that doing anything this far reaching can be accomplished without a mindboggling amount of work and effort. (George was really caught off guard by all that “Hard Work”, compared to the weak Govenor’s role in Texas, it must have been quite a reality shock). A lot of it in dull detail with little acknowledgement. Adams took responsibility for a lot of the war supply details as well as the books and budgeting.

    We need plenty of these serious, intelligent workhorses all the more in our current level of complicated Government – which can only be simplified so much in a fast moving, high tech world.

    *One aspect of the 9/11 response that stands out in contrast to NO is the number of people who didn’t wait for clearance to start moving. Including the Admiral in charge of the Atlantic fleet, who took the available ships out of Norfolk full steam North without orders. 4 years later, a smaller # have the guts to move without getting permission. Granted rescue efforts can be stymied with responders in the way and I think most of them were acting out of that concern. For a day, MAYBE two, OK. After the reality of the extensiveness and the need for more response – all over the south- became clear, I would have hoped for more of the old American ‘stop dithering and get out of my way’ attitude.

  7. Teresa says:

    This man is a genius. A great administrator.

    Sounds a lot like JE’s message. I wonder if they are planning another run together? hmmmm…

  8. Teresa says:

    And to think of this creative act. He came up with all of this in the last few days.

    We are so. so, so lucky.

  9. Ginny in CO says:

    Teresa,

    AMEN and AMEN !!!!

  10. Teresa

    They are the Shadow Pres and Vice Pres.

  11. Teresa says:

    YES.

    Indeed they are.

  12. Pingback: Epoch3 Blog » Blog Archive » John Kerry Twofer

  13. Well aren’t we lucky, a link from the other side.

  14. Pamela,

    The droolers do like to show off don’t they 😉 Sometimes I actually get a kick out of them. It is so cute when they just repeatedly parrot and regurigate the same slop that they’ve lapped up and acutally think they are clever or are even capable of having or expressing an actual thought. I hope you have him a cookie.

  15. sheesh did I make enough typos…

  16. kj says:

    I sort of like the “have him a cookie,” Dave. Quite expressive. LOLOL b;-)