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SBA Bill Reauthorizes National Women’s Business Council

A bill (H.R. 2392) to reauthorize several Small Business Administration (SBA) programs was amended and passed by unanimous consent in the Senate on October 2. The House had amended and passed the bill by voice vote on September 25.

As introduced, H.R. 2392 would have reauthorized the Small Business Innovation Research Program. That bill passed the House on September 27, 1999. The Senate amended and passed the bill on July 19, 2000, sending it back to the House. Last week, the House amended the Senate amendment, adding several stand-alone bills. That move sent the bill back to the Senate, which then amended the bill again with its version of a SBA reauthorization package. Its final fate is uncertain due to House concerns about several of the Senate’s most recent changes.

During House consideration last week, H.R. 3843 was one of the bills added to H.R. 2392. The House originally passed H.R. 3843 on March 15 (see The Source, 3/17/00, p. 1). In addition to reauthorizing a number of other SBA programs, H.R. 3843 would reauthorize the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) at $1 million each year for FY2001 through FY2003.

H.R. 3843 also would reauthorize the SBA’s domestic microloan program, which provides loans in amounts less than $25,000 for entrepreneurs—often women—who are unable to qualify for credit from traditional lending institutions. The microloan program would be reauthorized at $60 million for FY2001, $80 million for FY2002, and $100 million for FY2003. The 7(a) lending program would be reauthorized at $14.5 billion for FY2001, $15 billion for FY2002, and $16 billion for FY2003. The 504 loan program would be authorized at $4 billion for FY2001, $4.5 billion for FY2002, and $5 billion for FY2003.

Additionally, the bill would add women-owned businesses to the list of entities that qualify for the Certified Development Company program or the 504 program.

During Senate consideration of H.R. 2392 this week, the Senate added a bill (S. 2243) to reauthorize the NWBC. Sponsored by Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME), the bill sets out the duties of the council. Additionally, S. 2243 would charge the NWBC to “work with state and local officials and business leaders to develop infrastructure for women’s business enterprise for the purpose of increasing women’s effectiveness in shaping the economic agendas of their states and communities.” The NWBC also would be authorized to conduct studies, research, and initiatives relating to “the award of federal, state, local, and private sector prime contracts and subcontracts to women-owned businesses; and access to credit and investment capital by women entrepreneurs, and business development assistance programs, including the identification of best practices.”

The bill would reauthorize the NWBC at $1 million each year in FY2001 through FY2003. Of that amount, $550,000 would be available for the implementation of the state initiatives and studies outlined above.

Expressing his support for the NWBC, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) said, “For such a tiny office, with minimal funding and staff, it has managed to make a significant contribution to our understanding of the impact of women-owned businesses in our economy.”

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