(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, today delivered opening remarks at the hearing on oversight of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and review of the President’s Fiscal Year 2025 Budget proposal. Chair Shaheen emphasized SBA’s vital role as a resource for our nation’s entrepreneurs and the importance of ensuring local economies have a strong support network that helps small business owners looking to grow and expand.

Watch Chair Shaheen’s opening statement here. 
Read Chair Shaheen’s opening statement, as delivered, below.

Good afternoon, everyone, the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship will come to order. We are delighted to be joined by Administrator Guzman. Thank you for being here today. 

Let me just advise everyone that we are in the middle of votes. If it’s Wednesday and the committee is meeting, obviously, we’re in the middle of votes, so I expect Senators will come and go and that is the reason. 

Today, the committee will conduct a hearing to examine the Small Business Administration’s budget request and to take a closer look at how the agency helps America’s small businesses grow and thrive.

The Small Business Administration is a vital resource for our nation’s entrepreneurs, provides access to capital, entrepreneurial development services, support for small business government contractors and assistance for disaster victims. 

In New Hampshire, our local economies have benefited from a strong support network that helps launch new entrepreneurs and assists businesses seeking to grow and expand.

This includes our SBA district office as well as SBA’s resource partners like the Small Business Development Center, the Women’s Business Center and our two SCORE chapters.

As Chair of this committee and as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I am firmly committed to making sure that entrepreneurs have every opportunity to realize their dreams.

But for our small businesses to succeed, SBA will require real investments from Congress. I intend to continue to support robust funding for these critical resources.

This year, the President’s Budget requests 1.4 billion dollars for the SBA. The administration proposes many sound investments, including healthy levels for SBA’s lending programs and disaster funding. 

In particular, the budget recognizes the urgent need for additional resources to administer the COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan, or EIDL, program.

Without additional funding, SBA will be unable to provide the level of customer service that businesses need, and it will have a difficult time identifying and rooting out fraud in the program.

We need more funding for enforcement as well, which is why I was glad to see that the administration requested a substantial increase for SBA’s Inspector General, something that I had hoped we could do last year.

However, I was disappointed to see that for the second year in a row, the budget cuts funding for SBDCs, Small Business Development Centers, for SCORE and for the State Trade Expansion Program, or STEP.

As someone who helped create STEP in 2010, I’m a real believer that this program has a fantastic record of helping small businesses reach international markets, and when 95% of markets are outside of the United States, if we expect our small businesses to be able to enter those markets, we need to help them do that.  

Now, while I recognize that putting together a budget requires tradeoffs, I have to disagree with the administration’s proposal to reduce funding for STEP and other entrepreneurial development programs. As we craft our appropriation bills this spring, I will continue to push to protect these programs from cuts. 

I’ll also work to ensure that SBA uses its resources as effectively as possible. In particular, I would urge SBA to place more staff and resources on the ground where businesses are, rather than at its headquarters here in Washington. 

Over the last few years, we have seen SBA’s investment in its field offices diminish. I along with other senators have repeatedly asked the agency to reverse this trend. 

As business owners know, there is no substitute for local knowledge and expertise. I want to ensure that entrepreneurs will always be able to turn to someone at SBA who knows their communities just like they do.  

Administrator Guzman, I look forward to hearing from you today and discussing some of these concerns, and with that, I will turn it over to Ranking Member Ernst.