Below is a statement released today by Senator John Kerry, ranking Democrat on the Senate Small Business Committee.

"It's time for the SBA to start doing their job instead of just talking about it. When fewer than 50 business loans have been made seven weeks and nearly 10,500 applications after Katrina hit, the SBA isn’t doing its job. When local small businesses are losing out on contracts to big businesses outside the Gulf, the SBA isn’t doing its job.

"The SBA is indispensable to helping businesses and homeowners recover. Senators from both sides of the aisle have offered every assistance to make sure the SBA can do its job, but the Bush Administration and a few Republicans are blocking our efforts. This is rank mismanagement. How can the Administration claim to support small businesses and then offer $62 billion for relief efforts without designating a dime for small businesses? Instead of learning from Hurricane Katrina, the Administration is still responding slowly and ineffectively to reconstruction and is simply making excuses instead of fixing what’s not working.

"SBA Administrator Hector Barreto should not leave the Gulf Coast until these problems are fixed. That means making real loans and real assistance available to help small businesses and the thousands they employ get back on their feet. It's a win-win because it helps rebuild the Gulf Coast while helping the very engines of our economy."