Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, I am deeply concerned that the supplemental appropriations contained in this Military Construction Appropriations conference report (accompanying H.R. 4425) do not provide for essential funding for SBA's popular 7(a) guaranteed business loan program.

For nearly 50 years, SBA's 7(a) loan program has provided loans to start and grow small business across the country when they could not access financing in the commercial marketplace. SBA provides this assistance in the form of guaranties for loans made by a network of more than 5,000 private sector lenders. Currently, SBA's 7(a) portfolio includes nearly $40 billion in 7(a) loans representing as many as 150,000 small businesses that might not be in business today were it not for their SBA guaranteed loans. The 7(a) program is funded by user fees and a modest appropriation intended to offset any potential losses on the SBA guaranteed loans. For fiscal year 2000, the taxpayers' cost for a 7(a) loan is only $1.16 for every $1000 guaranteed. And for each $10,000 loaned, at least one job is created.

Despite the tremendous benefits provided by the 7(a) loan program, however, this year the available program level will not be adequate to meet the needs of the eligible, credit-worthy small businesses that will seek assistance from SBA. This means that by the end of the fiscal year the Agency will have to turn away some of the small entrepreneurs that are relying on SBA- guaranteed loans to finance the growth of their businesses. In an environment where small business is responsible for much of the growth in the American economy and most of the new job opportunities, this is penny-wise and pound-foolish.

SBA has funds available that could be transferred to the 7(a) program to help to make sure that every eligible, credit-worthy small business that seeks SBA's loan assistance is able to access the loans that they need. The simple request would allow SBA to use funds that have been previously appropriated to it for the 7(a) program. If any of us were asked whether we support the small businesses in our States--in our districts, we would answer with a resounding ``yes.'' By including language to allow SBA to use existing funds for 7(a) program loans, we will be demonstrating in a very tangible way that our local small businesses can really count on this support.

I don't understand why we, the Congress, continue to deny this simple request that means so much to so many and costs so little. This is nothing unanticipated or given to the Congress at the last minute:

In SBA's FY 2000 request, SBA asked for a program level of $10.5 billion for this program. The SBA only received a program level of $9.75 billion.

The President's supplemental request letter of February 25, 2000 included SBA's request for authority to transfer money to the 7(a) program to raise the program level to the requested $10.5 billion.

When the Administrator testified on the FY 2001 budget in March of this year, she stated that SBA would need the $10.5 billion program level for FY 2000 at the then current demand level.

On May 22, SBA Administrator Alvarez sent letters to Chairmen Stevens and Gregg expressing her concern that the transfer was not included in S. 2536.

In a letter from Jacob Lew, director of OMB, to Chairman Young, Director Lew mentioned the concern by the Administration of the transfer ability.

Now I am expressing my concern that it is not in H.R. 4425.