WASHINGTON --- Sen. John F. Kerry, Ranking Member on the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, today praised the Senate Committee on Appropriations for rejecting President Bush’s proposals to slash help for America's small business owners.

The Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies appropriations bill approved today includes $622 million for the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) budget in fiscal year 2006, nearly $29 million more than requested by the Bush Administration. Kerry strongly opposed the severe cuts to the SBA.

“Since taking office, the President has cut the SBA more than any other agency. Despite his repeated promises to widen the ownership of businesses, President Bush continues to go after assistance for rural, low-income, women-owned, minority-owned and home-based small businesses,” Kerry said. “I am pleased that Republicans and Democrats have joined together to reject some of the Administration’s most short-sighted budget cuts, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to reverse the others.”

On April 22, 2005, Sen. Kerry and the entire Small Business Committee sent a letter to the Appropriations Committee requesting that the SBA’s fiscal year 2006 appropriations be restored, not cut further as requested by President Bush. The letter also requested the preservation of the line items to fund programs in order to maintain spending transparency. To read the letter, please visit https://www.sbc.senate.gov/democrat/correspondence.cfm.

The Appropriations Committee accepted Kerry’s requests for several programs, including: $15 million for Microloan Technical Assistance and $2 million in direct Microloans to leverage $20 million in loans, both of which the President’s budget eliminated; $5 million for the Program for Investment in Micro-Enterprise (PRIME), which the President’s budget eliminated; $2 million for Native American Outreach, more than double what the President’s budget requested; and the fully authorized program levels of $17 billion for the SBA’s 7(a) loan guarantee program for working capital and $7.5 billion for the 504 loan guarantee program for fixed assets. The President only requested $16.5 billion and $5.5 billion for those programs while eliminating all funding for the 7(a) loan program, forcing borrowers and lenders to pay for the costs through user fees.

Other funding levels in the appropriations bill are:

Small Business Development Centers, $89 million; Drugfree Workplace Grants, $1 million; SCORE, $5 million; Women’s Business Centers, $12 million; Women’s Council, $750,000; 7(j) Technical Assistance, $1.5 million; Veterans Business Development, $750,000; and HUBZones, $2 million.

The bill is expected to be taken up by the full Senate sometime this summer.