WASHINGTON – Senator Kerry, Ranking Member of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, today received overwhelming support from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for his amendment to the Omnibus Appropriations measure, introduced yesterday, to reinvest unused money from the Supplementary Terrorist Activity Relief (STAR) fund offered through the Small Business Administration, into the drastically under funded SBA cornerstone loan fund, the 7(a).

In the aforementioned letter from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to the Senate, Bruce Josten, Executive Vice President of Government Affairs stated, “the uncertainties in the availability of loans from this program could disrupt current avenues of long-term capital to entrepreneurs willing to invest in starting and growing their businesses.”

Created in response to the terrorist attacks on 9/11, the STAR program was developed to aide small businesses affected by the attacks. The Kerry amendment, Amendment 129, would authorize the reprogramming of any unused STAR funding into the 7(a) loan program – the most used government guaranteed small business loan program in the country. Due to the Administration’s proposal to cut the SBA’s loan ability by half, access to capital for small business owners has been severely affected – forcing many existing businesses to curtail their operations or shut their doors and preventing new businesses from forming.  This amendment would result in adding approximately $1.5 billion in government guaranteed lending capacity to the 7(a) program for fiscal year 2003 and has been scored as cost neutral by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

“Eliminating $1.5 billion in capital from small businesses would greatly dampen economic recovery efforts in our nation,” said Kerry. “Small businesses are the key to our economic success as a nation and are the answer to lowering unemployment and resuscitating the economic lifeblood of our country.”