Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-ID), chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, held a hearing to examine the Small Business Administration's (SBA) response and recovery efforts following hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. 

"Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria have caused total and unprecedented devastation throughout Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the rest of the Caribbean," Chairman Risch said. "These record setting hurricanes that hit these coastal regions of the United States back to back to back have caused record setting flooding. Phone and power lines are still down, making it very challenging for first responders to get access to the affected areas. Many of these businesses and communities will face years of rebuilding before anything returns to normal. We all need to do everything in our power to help our fellow Americans get the most care and assistance possible."

The SBA’s Disaster Loan Program is the primary federal program for funding long-range recovery for private sector, non-farm disaster victims and the only form of SBA assistance not limited to small businesses. Following Hurricane Harvey, the SBA has approved more than $500 million in disaster loans and that number will continue to grow in response to hurricanes Irma and Maria. Congress approved an additional $450 million for SBA’s Disaster Loan Program earlier this month, including $225 million for program level authority and $225 million for administrative expenses to process loan applications. 

"SBA’s disaster assistance mission is to provide affordable, timely and accessible financial assistance following a declared disaster to businesses of all sizes, private non-profit organizations, as well as homeowners and renters," said James Rivera, Associate Administrator for Disaster Assistance at the SBA during opening remarks before the committee. "Currently, we’re approving more than $36 million per day in disaster loan funds. On behalf of Administrator Linda McMahon and the entire Agency, we appreciate ... your continued leadership to ensure that as a country we are able to meet the challenges of disaster events like the ones we have seen in this year’s very active Hurricane Season."

Risch added: "As we consider the storms in these coastal regions, I would like to mention the devastation and damage the wildfires caused this summer in the western United States. I recently helped introduce a bipartisan bill, the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act of 2017, which would help with wildfire funding, and would protect desperately needed funding for fire prevention. Disasters look different across the United States and we cannot forget other parts of the country that continue to be effected perennially by disasters as well."

For full witness testimony, click here

Click here to view Risch's full opening statement