On Wednesday night, before adjourning for the year, the House of Representatives passed a $626 billion military spending bill. But what you might have missed (I did) is that the bill had a hidden gem that helps small business. The New York Times small business blog reports that the bill provided $125 million to extend Small Business Administration lending provisions from February's stimulus bill. It's nice to see such a sensible move by the House.
The provisions that were extended eliminated fees and increased the guarantee level for SBA loans in order to encourage lending. But the money set aside ran out in November. This new legislation extends those changes through November 2010. Interestingly, it does so without actually allocating any new money. According to the Times, it reallocates funds previously set aside by the stimulus for digital television converter box coupons, which appears to have been more than necessary. A little small business stimulus without any new increase to the deficit sounds good to me.
The bill passed easily, 395 to 34. But the Times has an amusing tidbit:
In fact, more Democrats than Republicans voted against the measure -- and curiously, among the 23 Democratic naysayers was one Nydia Velázquez, the mercurial chair of -- wait for it -- the Small Business Committee! An aide to Ms. Velázquez said she has "consistently opposed funding for the war," but that wouldn't explain why she voted in favor of the original defense appropriations bill, back in late July, which had much the same war funding but no S.B.A. funding.
According to the Times, these stimulus provisions have been very important for small business:
According to the S.B.A., they've been responsible for $14 billion in loans to small businesses and have increased the weekly S.B.A. loan volume by more than 75 percent since last February.
Credit is still an issue for small business. I noted a report (.pdf) by the National Federation of Independent Business earlier this month. That report shows that credit hasn't improved much as the year has progressed for small business:
The bill still has to get through the Senate tomorrow, but I can't imagine it having much trouble, given the huge margin it passed by in the House.
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