February 1, 2008
WASHINGTON D.C. -
Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee Ranking Member Olympia J. Snowe (R-ME) today hailed the passage of legislation that will expand business opportunities for veterans and help reservists keep their businesses afloat during and after deployment. The Senate unanimously cleared the Military Reservist and Veteran Small Business Reauthorization and Opportunity Act of 2007 (H.R. 4253) late last night, sending it to President Bush to sign into law.
“As alarming numbers of our Guard members and reservists continue to selflessly answer their nation’s call to duty, we in Congress must similarly fulfill our responsibility to protect their livelihoods back home,” said Senator Snowe. “The state of our economy underscores the need to quickly sign this bipartisan and bicameral legislation into law so that we can provide assistance to our nation’s veterans’ entrepreneurs.”
Senator Snowe has been at the forefront of the effort to provide assistance to veteran small business owners dating as far back as 2005, when she offered S. 1014, the Supporting Our Patriotic Businesses Act of 2005. Key provisions from S.1014 and two other bills that she offered in the past few years were included into the legislation that passed last night.
“I am grateful that Small Business Committee Chairman Kerry, Senator Coburn, my fellow colleagues in the House, and others worked with me in passing this crucial legislation,” Snowe added.
Passage of the legislation came only a day after Senators Snowe and Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), members of the Senate Finance Committee, scored another large victory for veterans when the panel approved their amendment to ensure that the disability payments received by our nation’s 250,000 service-disabled veterans’ are considered as “income” for the limited purpose of making the veterans eligible to receive a tax rebate check.
“It would be unconscionable to exclude those who have given so much to our country from receiving a tax rebate,” said Senator Snowe. “Let us be clear on this point: our nation’s disabled veterans are in no way less deserving than others who will receive rebate checks.”
The Military Reservist and Veteran Small Business Reauthorization and Opportunity Act of 2007 is based on legislation Senators Snowe and Kerry introduced earlier in 2007, the Military Reservist and Veteran Small Business Reauthorization and Opportunity Act (S. 1784), and includes provisions from a House-passed bill sponsored by Congressman Jason Altmire (D-PA.). Specifically, the legislation Congress approved yesterday will:
- Increase the authorization of appropriations for the Small Business Administration’s Office of Veteran Business Development
- Create an Interagency Taskforce on Veteran Small Business to focus on increasing veterans’ small business success, procurement and franchising opportunities, and access to capital
- Make permanent the Advisory Committee on Veterans Business Affairs
- Allow the SBA Administrator to offer loans up to $50,000 without requiring collateral from a loan applicant
- Improve the Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan program by providing a longer application deadline, creating a pre-application loan approval process, and expanding outreach and technical assistance
- Require a Government Accountability Office report on the needs of service-disabled veterans and a separate report on how to improve relations between employers and reservist employees
- Create a loan participation program in which veterans can receive 7(a) loans while paying 50 percent of the fees
- Require Veteran Business Outreach Centers to increase their participation in the Transition Assistance Program
- Create a grant program to improve Small Business Development Centers’ outreach to the veteran community
- Instruct the Associate Administrator of the Office of Veterans Business Development to create and disseminate information aimed at informing women veterans about the resources available to them