Senate Democrats are ramping up in an attempt to pass legislation designed to aid American small businesses, as a diverse coalition urges President Obama and Senate Democrats to include one of Obama’s signature energy initiatives as part of that bill.
Senate Democrats want to push a Small Business Jobs Act past GOP opposition, and bring to a vote a package of small-business tax breaks, community-bank-driven capital, and breaks on Small Business Administration loans.
Meanwhile, an organization formed to promote Obama’s Home Star initiative want legislation included in the small business bill that would create the program, which is designed to create jobs that would cut residential energy use nationwide.
Senate Democratic Steering Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, and Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey held a press conference Wednesday to discuss how they see Republicans trying to stop the creation of millions of American jobs.
“Senate Democrats have passed legislation that is helping our economy recover–creating millions of jobs–yet our Republican colleagues have tried to block these measures at every opportunity along the way,” Stabenow says. “From opposing tax cuts to help small businesses to blocking the extension of unemployment benefits for millions of American families struggling to find work, Republicans continue their attempt to cut off our economic recovery, so they can take us back to the policies that got us into this economic downturn in the first place. It’s time Republicans quit trying to block efforts that are putting Americans back to work.”
In a separate press event Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Senate Small Business Committee Chairwoman Mary Landrieu (D-La.), and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) joined Small Business Administrator Karen Mills and Terry Gardiner of the Small Business Majority highlight efforts by Senate Democrats to strengthen and support America’s small businesses.
“We know that the road to recovery in Nevada and across the country runs through the private sector,” Reid says. “And we know the engines that run the private sector are our small businesses. They are in big cities and small towns, and they play the most critical role in crafting what our future will look like.”
Small businesses are America’s engine for job growth, creating two out of every 3 new jobs across the country, according to Mills.
“We need to make sure small businesses continue to have the tools they need to drive our nation’s economic recovery and create jobs,” she says. “Now is not the time to pull back. The President and Congressional Democrats have put forward a small business agenda that builds on the success of the Recovery Act by providing access to capital, tax relief and stability the credit markets.”
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is the legislative name for the $787 billion economic stimulus program put into place early in 2009 to help pull the nation out of its deep economic slump.
“Many Virginia small business owners tell me they are ‘recovering’ but they are not yet ‘recovered,’” Warner says. “It is vitally important that we work to support our nation’s small businesses by knocking-down the barriers that prevent them from getting loans and investing in the future.”
Construction Industry Kick Start
Separately, the Home Star Coalition says that Obama’s proposed Home Star program is just the kind of kick U.S. small businesses need. Home Star would establish a $6 billion rebate program to encourage Americans to immediately investment in energy-efficient appliances, building mechanical systems and insulation, and whole-home energy efficiency retrofits. It will rapidly create jobs in both construction and manufacturing, while saving families money on their energy bills, the coalition adds.
The broad HomeStar Coalition includes progressive interests, such as the Center for American Progress, the Sierra Club and the Change to Win labor organization, as well as businesses like The Home Depot, Cellulose Insulation Manufacturers Association and the National Association of Manufacturers.
“HOME STAR is an essential step to help Americans save on their energy bills while spurring the creation of good jobs and new industries that drive economic recovery and help our country achieve energy independence,” says Kevin Pranis, director of home performance for Change to Win, an organized labor group representing some 6 million workers.
Home Star would help to kick start the comeback of the nation’s hard-hit construction industry. The coalition estimates the legislation would create 168,000 new jobs in construction and related industries over the next two years. This would have a big impact because one out of four construction workers is currently unemployed, the coalition adds.
“Investing in HOME STAR for our homes and buildings is the cleanest, cheapest, and fastest way to save energy,” says Michael Brune, Sierra Club executive director. “By reducing the amount of energy simply going to waste, HOME STAR would allow hard-hit consumers to see immediate reductions in their energy bills, but it would also put tens of thousands of Americans back to work in skilled construction and manufacturing jobs almost immediately — making it an easy win for both the economy and the environment.”
The publisher of the news site On The Hill, Scott Nance has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade.