The Republican accomplishment last week to block extension of a variety of recession-related benefits will cause at least 27 Americans to lose their jobs, according to the chairwoman of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee.
The Senate GOP is supporting the effort of Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) to block a vote of a Democratic bill that would extend unemployment insurance, health coverage, and other benefits aimed to help Americans deal with the recession.
The bill would extend two key small business provisions enacted in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act: increased government guarantees and eliminated fees on small business loans. Many of the programs, including the small business provisions, will expire Sunday, Feb. 28.
U.S. unemployment stands at 9.7 percent, still at a decades-high, after falling slightly from 10 percent. In his January State of the Union address, President Obama committed to focusing more on a jobs agenda.
The increased government guarantees and eliminated fees, changes made under the Recovery Act, have added $18.2 billion in lending to more than 40,000 small businesses and helped to create more than 500,000 jobs in the last year, according to Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), chairwoman of the small business panel.
“These programs will expire on Sunday and, because of the success of the programs, the money has already run out, leaving 343 small business owners waiting for $141 million in loans,” Landrieu says. “One such small business owner from Louisiana contacted my office this week pleading for help. Her Recovery Act loan has been approved for an increase, but it is pending further action from Congress. Without this increased capital, she says she will need to lay off 27 workers.
“Small business owners across America are depending on us to refund and extend these necessary small business programs. But thanks to one Republican, thousands of small business owners might not get the money they need in time,” Landrieu adds. “I remain committed to working with my colleagues in the Senate to pass an extension of these provisions as soon as possible.”
Some 80 advocacy groups, forming the Small Business Access to Credit Coalition, sent a letter to Landrieu urging that a long-term extension of the Recovery Act provisions be included in one of the Senate’s job-creating measures, according to a statement issued by the Senate small business committee.
Landrieu, along with the committee’s ranking Republican, Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine, included an extension of these provisions as part of S. 2869, The Small Business Job Creation and Access to Capital Act, that was voted out of the panel in early December, the statement adds.
Publisher of the news site On The Hill, Scott Nance has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade.