WASHINGTON – The United States Senate Budget Committee in a markup today accepted an amendment offered by Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, D-Md. to the budget that would increase the FY2010 funding level for the Small Business Administration (SBA) by $180 million to $880 million, which is the level requested by Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship Chair Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Ranking Member Olympia J. Snowe, R-Maine. Sen. Cardin, a member of the Small Business Committee, yesterday participated in a hearing of the Committee examining the President’s FY2010 SBA budget request.

“After years of cuts to the SBA during the previous Presidential Administration, it is exceptionally encouraging that the Budget Committee has increased funding for this vital agency,” Sen. Landrieu said after the vote. “The SBA is the only agency dedicated to assisting small businesses. As we heard from witnesses before our Committee last week and yesterday, it is necessary that the agency have the resources to meet the needs of small firms throughout the country. Since November, small businesses have lost 80 percent of the jobs in the country. Banks have slowed lending and dried up lines of credit, and the SBA is more needed than ever. This additional funding level will allow the SBA to back additional loans to entrepreneurs, provide technical assistance to struggling businesses and help ensure that small businesses lead the country’s way toward economic recovery.

“Sen. Cardin is a true friend to small business, and I am grateful that he took the initiative so early during the budget process to make sure small businesses remain a top priority. I’d also like to thank Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad for keeping small businesses at the forefront by fighting for increased funding for the SBA,” Sen. Landrieu said.

“I am pleased that the Senate Budget Committee heeded our request to increase funding for the SBA to the level of $880 million for Fiscal Year 2010 by adopting Senator Cardin’s amendment,” said Sen. Snowe. “Between Fiscal Years 2001 and 2008, the SBA’s budget was unacceptably slashed by 27 percent – the largest of any agency – and President Obama’s budget simply did not contain adequate funding for the Agency. These additional funds are critical to ensuring the success of our nation’s small businesses, at a time when they will play an extraordinarily vital role in helping to stem this economic crisis. I thank Senator Cardin for his dedication and leadership in shepherding this crucial amendment.”

“I introduced my amendment because small businesses are the key to our economic recovery,” said Senator Cardin. “My amendment will increase funding for the SBA, an agency that has been short-changed for too long and now more than ever needs to be well-funded and fully-staffed so that it can offer small businesses the technical assistance and support they need to weather these difficult economic times.”