Several Sept. 11-related proposals circulating on Capitol Hill would make Small Business Administration-backed loans and other assistance available to more businesses.

One bill, introduced this month by Sens. John F. Kerry, a Democrat from Massachusetts and the chairman of the Senate Small Business Committee, and Kit Bond, R-Mo., the committee's ranking minority member, would make 7(a) loans available under more favorable terms to businesses affected by the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon -- even if the companies in those businesses do not have offices in the immediate disaster areas.

Eligible businesses would include suppliers and service providers of industries directly affected -- such as financial services, hospitality, and travel/tourism industries -- and those that complement them. The loans, made by private lenders and backed by the SBA, would be made at prime plus one; they would have lower qualification criteria and interest rates and the option of deferring principal payments for a year.

Businesses in need of capital and investment financing, procurement assistance, or management counseling would be eligible for 7 (a) loans with no borrower's fees.

A companion bill to the Kerry-Bond legislation was recently introduced by Rep. Donald Manzullo, R-Ill. -- Nicole Duran