WASHINGTON - Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), a senior member of the Senate Committee on Banking, are urging their Republican colleagues to put politics aside and help America’s entrepreneurs stressed by a worsening economic climate. Several small business proposals within the economic stimulus package introduced this week would help alleviate the credit crunch, providing much-needed help to small firms.

“As the lifeblood of our economy, small business owners bear much of the burden when our system struggles,” said Kerry. “To keep our economy moving we need to help these everyday Americans who are pleading for help as they try to pay their bills and stock their shelves for the holiday season.”

When credit from the private sector is frozen, small firms rely on the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) loan programs to free up credit. The stimulus provides $620 million targeted to help firms gain greater access to these SBA loans. Of that money, $615 million would temporarily eliminate fees charged to borrowers and lenders who participate in these government-backed programs, helping to support $22.5 billion in loans to entrepreneurs. Additionally, $1 million is provided to support $8.5 million in microloans and $4 million for microloan counseling. These actions would free up credit, give small businesses more outlets for help and allow firms to create and retain jobs in these tough economic times.

“Small businesses are looking to us for immediate help and leadership,” said Kerry. “Entrepreneurs can’t afford to wait another month, or more, for the rescue package to begin working. And frankly, neither can our economy or the hundreds of thousands in need of jobs.”

“With the credit markets tighter than ever and the economy plunging in to greater turmoil every day, we need every tool in the toolbox to ensure small businesses across the country get the loans they need,” Schumer said. “For many right now, government loans could be the only option. Our plan will reduce needless fees and streamline the process so businesses don’t have to wait months and pay through the nose to get the lines of credit they need.”