WASHINGTON – United States Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., Chair of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, and Senator George LeMieux, R-Fla., along with Senators Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Senator Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn, last night introduced an amendment, S. Amdt. 4500, The Small Business Lending Fund, to increase capital to small businesses struggling to access lines of credit to hire workers, improve their infrastructure and grow their businesses. The LeMieux, Landrieu amendment will inject $30 billion through health community banks into the small business economy. This addition to the Small Business Job Creation Act is estimated to save taxpayers $1.1 billion over ten years.

“Like the rest of our nation, Florida’s economy needs help. Unemployment is high and Floridians want to get back to work. Small business owners want to grow their operations and rehire workers,” said Senator LeMieux. “One of the biggest hurdles is the ability for businesses to secure loans or investors. This bill primes the engine for investment. It is what we need and it will help move our economy in a positive direction.”

“Small business in America need a champion in Washington right now,” Senator Landrieu said. “While many of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle choose to hide behind partisan rhetoric, we have been working to make life a little easier for the 27 million small businesses across the country. Contrary to what some are saying about this lending fund, this program is not to bail out the big banks; it is for the small business across this country. We are simply using the healthy community banks as a conduit to get money flowing to these businesses. I appreciate Senator LeMieux’s commitment to help small businesses, and I urge my colleagues to support this legislation because it is the right thing to do.”

“Small businesses are the engines of job creation, and credit is the oil to keep the engine running – the Small Business Lending Fund will help small businesses put America back to work,” Merkley said. “This amendment will give every Senator a chance to show whether they stand for small businesses and more jobs or prefer to play politics.”

“When are we going to stand up for small businesses in America who have had trouble getting access to this capital, who have been penalized?” Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) said in remarks on the Senate floor. “What they want to know is, if they didn’t cause this mess, how is it that when it came to the big banks, everybody said, ‘Yup, here’s the opportunity for you,’ everybody said, ‘Here’s the keys to the Treasury, here’s all the money.’ But now, when it comes to making sure that community banks are lending to small businesses, people are saying, ‘No, Main Street doesn’t have the same priority as Wall Street. Small business is asking for an effective lending program through the community banks. That’s all they’re asking for, and we gave Wall Street a bailout, without any terms and conditions for repayment.”

“Small businesses are the heart and soul of so many of our communities, and our economy is strongest when they have the capital they need to keep their doors open and add jobs,” said Senator Patty Murray. “This economic downturn has hit small businesses hard, and we owe it to Main Streets across America to make sure they have access to the capital they need to not only survive, but thrive.”

“In an increasingly competitive global economy, it is important to ensure that small- and medium-sized businesses have access to information and tools to capitalize on potential opportunities in foreign markets,” Klobuchar said. “Small businesses are the engine of job creation in this country and by increasing exports, they can lead the way to economic recovery.”

The Small Business Lending Fund has been endorsed by several organizations including the Independent Community Bankers of America, the American Bankers Association, the National Small Business Association, the National Association for the Self-Employed, Small Business Majority, the National Bankers Association and the Conference of State Bank Supervisors, among others.

A complete summary of the LeMieux-Landrieu Amendment can be viewed by clicking here.