WASHINGTON -- The Senate late yesterday passed a bipartisan amendment authored by Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) to restore $78 million for critical programs at the Small Business Administration (SBA) that President Bush had proposed drastically cutting or eliminating all together.

The SBA’s funding has been cut by 36 percent since 2001. The Snowe-Kerry amendment increases the SBA's budget next year by $78 million, to $671 million.

“Since taking office, the President has cut the SBA more than any other agency. Our amendment helps reverse the President’s repeated attacks on small business assistance,” said Kerry. “America’s small businesses are the engine of our economy. I am glad Congress rejected the administration’s short-sighted budget priorities and stood up for our America's small business owners, preserving crucial assistance for rural, low-income, women-owned, minority-owned and home-based small businesses. Too much about this budget hurts the very engine of job creation, so this is one important step in the right direction.”

Kerry and Snowe are the Ranking Member and Chair of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. For the fiscal year 2006 budget, the Snowe-Kerry amendment adds:

§ $15 million to Microloan Technical Assistance (terminated by President’s budget),

§ $2 million to the Microloan Program for $20 million in loans (terminated),

§ $5 million to the Program for Investment in Micro-entrepreneurs (PRIME) (terminated),

§ $3 million to the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) FAST Program (terminated),

§ $1 million to the SBIR Rural Outreach Program (terminated),

§ $21 million to the Small Business Development Centers (increases funding to $109 million),

§ $10 million to fund procurement center representatives (increases to funding est. $15.5 million),

§ $8 million to the HUBZone program (increases funding to $10.3 million),

§ $4.5 million to the Women’s Business Centers Program (increases funding to $16.5 million),

§ $3.5 million to Export Assistance Centers Program (increases funding to $5 million),

§ $2 million to the SCORE program (increases funding to $7 million),

§ $750,000 to the Veterans’ Outreach Program (increases funding to $1.5 million),

§ $500,000 to the 7(j) program (increases funding to $2.5 million), and

§ $200,000 to Native American outreach (increases funding to $1 million).

Kerry proposed a separate SBA budget amendment (SA 249) that would have increased SBA’s budget by $139 million; however, this amendment was opposed by the Republican majority. The Kerry amendment included greater assistance for microloans, 7(j) contracting assistance, Native American outreach, veteran small businesses, the New Markets Venture Capital program, and for fee relief through the 7(a) loan program.