WASHINGTON--- Today Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, announced a hearing in January to hold the Bush Administration accountable for promises to implement programs to help small businesses succeed.

Kerry and Snowe outlined issues they will press the Administration on, including funding for Women’s Business Centers, implementing the Women’s Procurement Program, providing energy assistance for entrepreneurs, and reaching out to small business owners and their families about health insurance programs.

“Seven years of delays and empty promises are not helping small businesses provide health care, deal with skyrocketing energy costs, access federal contracts, or get the training they need to boost their businesses,” said Kerry. “We can do better. While Administrator Preston is taking steps to turn his agency around, this Committee will be persistent in working to get these programs off the ground without further delay.”

"Today, we are asking SBA Administrator Preston to provide us with a status update on a variety of critical oversight issues we have raised during hearings this year," said Senator Snowe. "I am keenly interested to learn of actions the SBA is taking with respect to, among other issues, the final implementation of the Women's Contracting Set-Aside program, completion of small business requirements as mandated by the Energy Policy Act of 2005, and improvements to and resources for SBA lender oversight and fraud prevention. It is vital that we make progress on all of these initiatives as quickly as possible, and in addition to reading his written responses, I look forward to hearing from Administrator Preston during a Small Business Committee hearing next January."

Kerry and Snowe will follow up on promises made by the Bush Administration earlier this year to implement by October 2007 the Women’s Procurement Program, enacted into law seven years ago, and to fund by January 18, 2008, established Women’s Business Centers. Kerry and Snowe passed legislation signed into law in May with provisions to ensure a steady stream of funding goes to successful Women’s Business Centers, building on a sustainability program created by Kerry in 1999.

The Women’s Procurement Program mandates that women have equal access to federal contracts. Despite repeated bipartisan calls for action, the Bush Administration has failed to implement this program over the last seven years, costing women-owned businesses an estimated $6 billion in lost potential revenue.

To read the letter that Chairman Kerry and Ranking Member Snowe sent to Administrator Preston, please click here.