SENATE EXTENDS UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE, TURNS TO SMALL BUSINESS JOBS BILL

Shaheen applauds extension of critical safety net, urges swift passage of job creation bill

July 21, 2010

(Washington D.C.)- U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen today announced that the Senate passed an extension of federal unemployment compensation, which will preserve a critical safety net for tens of thousands of New Hampshire residents and millions of out of work Americans nationwide. The bill will also retroactively restore compensation to workers whose unemployment insurance expired during nearly two months of obstruction. Unemployment insurance plays a critical role in the nation's economic recovery, but more needs to be done. The Senate will now take up legislation that will help small businesses access credit and create jobs. 

"Unemployment insurance is essential for families struggling in this difficult economy.  Extending this program also helps our communities as this money is spent immediately on groceries, gas, and at other small businesses," said Shaheen. "Unemployed workers desperately need this help, but more than that, they need a job.  Small businesses are the backbone of New Hampshire's economy, and we must do more to help these businesses access the credit they need and expand into new markets so they can create more jobs. I look forward to continuing to work on legislation that will spur small business job creation, and I hope we are able to pass it quickly."

Shaheen has supported extending unemployment insurance since joining the Senate, and, in the fall, she worked to ensure that unemployment compensation was available to the hardest hit workers in every state.

Prior to today's vote to extend unemployment, Shaheen spoke on the floor of the Senate to urge her colleagues to pass a bill that will help small businesses grow so that more out of work Americans can rejoin the workforce. 

The full text of Shaheen's remarks as prepared for delivery follow:

Today, hopefully, we will - finally - extend unemployment insurance to those who can't find a job in this difficult economic climate.

Our next task is to help small employers and entrepreneurs grow their businesses and hire new workers. That is the only way we will fully emerge from this recession.

Over the past 15 years, small businesses have created almost two-thirds of new jobs in America. 

Small businesses are the cornerstone of New Hampshire's economy.  Over 96 percent of businesses in the Granite State are small businesses with fewer than 500 employees. 

That's why we need to pass the Small Business Jobs Act as soon as possible.  This legislation will dramatically increase lending to small businesses, enhance the ability of small companies to export, and provide tax relief to small firms.  I am proud that as a member of the Small Business Committee, I helped craft this bill under the leadership of my chairwoman, Senator Mary Landrieu, and Ranking Member, Senator Olympia Snowe.  And I want to thank them for their work on this bill.

While community banks in New Hampshire have increased their lending, I consistently hear from small businesses that they've run out of financing options for the working capital they need.  Last year my office organized a financing fair to bring together lenders and small businesses who need financing. Over 500 people showed up. And wherever I go in New Hampshire small business owners tell me they've run out of financing options.  In some cases, their only choice is to turn to credit cards, paying exorbitant interest rates to get the working capital to keep their businesses going.

The small business jobs bill will enhance Small Business Administration (SBA) loan programs that help small businesses in New Hampshire access the credit they need to hire workers, grow their businesses, and weather the economic storm. 

In the past year, many small businesses in New Hampshire have taken advantage of enhancements to SBA programs that were included in the Recovery Act.  One business owner in New Hampshire, Janet Dunican, was able to save her business with an SBA loan.  Janet owns an innovative manufacturing company in Hooksett, New Hampshire.  She has over 50 employees that help take trucks owned by other small businesses and transform them by adding custom-fit utility buckets - the kind you see when the cable company fixes power lines after a storm.

When Janet needed a loan to save her company, she looked everywhere for help.  But with credit tight and the economy uncertain, she had a hard time finding a bank that would finance a project that would keep her business afloat.  Then she turned to a bank that participated in an SBA loan guarantee program.  She was able to work with her bank and get the credit she needed to save her business.

But many small businesses can't take advantage of loan guarantees because the loans are too limited and don't fit their needs.  The Small Business Jobs Act opens these programs to more businesses by increasing the size of loans they can obtain; allowing small businesses to refinance their debt at low rates; and extending the higher guarantee rates that were included in the Recovery Act.  The SBA estimates that these provisions will put over $5 billion in credit into the hands of small businesses.

The bill also funds successful state small business lending programs, which have helped save many small businesses and helped others finance their growth.   These programs, like the New Hampshire Business Finance Authority's Capital Access Program and other successful small business lending programs, can quickly get credit into the hands of the small firms that need it most.

The bill also includes my proposal to allow more small businesses in New Hampshire to access the SBA's Express program.  This program is popular with banks in New Hampshire because it cuts red tape and allows them to use their own paperwork.  It's a simple way to quickly put working capital into the hands of small business owners.

Another important way we can increase the bottom lines of small businesses is by helping them sell their products overseas.  For small businesses, starting to export can be challenging.  Unlike big firms, they often don't have the technical capacity or the resources to identify new markets, go on trade missions, and market their products to foreign buyers.  This small business jobs bill will help small firms access new markets by boosting federal and state programs that help these small businesses export their products.  It also strengthens SBA export financing programs so that small businesses can get loans to put them in a better position to compete globally.

Finally, this legislation also provides over $12 billion in targeted tax relief for small businesses.  These tax cuts will help free up capital for small firms to make investments and hire workers.  

Mr. President, the Small Business Jobs Act will help provide the boost small businesses in New Hampshire and across the country need so they can create jobs and help grow our economy.

I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this critical legislation.

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