Washington, D.C.- Today, Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) and his colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 4253, Military Reservist and Veterans Small Business Reauthorization and Opportunity Act, legislation to expand small business opportunities for veterans and help military reservists keep their businesses afloat during and after deployment.
“Our brave men and women in uniform, who put their lives on the line for our security, should not have to do so at the expense of their own economic security,” said Higgins, a member of the House Small Business Committee.
An estimated 40 percent of reservists lose income when called up to active duty, and the rate rises to 55 percent for reservists who are self-employed. Additionally, small business loans to veterans have dropped since 2001, despite the fact that 4 million veterans currently own small businesses. H.R. 4253 will strengthen federal efforts to expand opportunities for veteran-owned businesses, provide new small business loans and expand outreach to veteran-owned small businesses, and strengthen relief to small businesses employing National Guard or Reserve troops.
Specifically, the legislation:
· Increases to $4.4 million the authorization the Small Business Administration’s Office of Veteran Business Development, which works to maximize the availability and usability of small business programs for veterans, service-disabled veterans, reserve members, and their dependents or Survivors for the next two years.
· Facilitates the coordination of all federal agencies to focus attention on increasing the success rate of and opportunities for veteran-owned businesses by creating an Interagency Taskforce on Veteran Small Business.
· Creates a new loan initiative providing veterans with 7(a) small business loans at 50 percent of the fees of other small businesses.
· Requires a Government Accountability Office report on the needs of service-disabled veterans and how to improve relations between employers and reservist employees.
The House passed an earlier version of this bill by a vote of 407-2 on December 6. This measure makes minor changes to the version of the bill passed by the Senate on December 19. The Senate is expected to take up this version and send it to the President.