March 21, 2005--Amid last Thursday's fracas on Capitol Hill, while the House and Senate passed two competing versions of the 2006 budget and baseball sluggers faced off against legislators, the Small Business Administration (SBA) received some welcome support.
Working late into the night to get the budget out before Easter break, the Senate passed an amendment to increase the Small Business Administration's budget by $78 million, bringing the total to $671 million.
"The amendment to the SBA is one of the most important parts of the budget, in terms of small businesses," said Wes Coulam, a spokesperson for the Senate Small Business Committee.
But since the budget is nonbinding at this stage, the SBA increase may not survive.
Since 2001, the SBA's budget has been cut by 36%. The $78 million is earmarked to restore two microloan programs that were terminated in the President's budget, and add $21 million to the Small Business Development Center's budget.
The amendment was a bipartisan effort, led by Republican Olympia Snowe (Maine) and Democrat John F. Kerry (Mass.), and was attached to the greater $2.57 trillion 2006 budget.
The Senate's budget now heads to conference, where both House and Senate members will hash out one final proposal. Kerry and Snowe's amendment, however, is unlikely to pass, said Kate Davis, spokesperson for Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez (D-New York), a ranking member on the House Small Business Committee.
"In regard to the amendment offered by Snowe and Kerry -- that has been done for the last few years now and unfortunately has never gone through. So it is unlikely that it will make it through this year," Davis said.
The Senate's total budget, which passed 52-48, stripped several of the President's proposed cuts to entitlement programs, most specifically a five year, $14 billion reduction to Medicaid, the government program that provides healthcare to low income families. Along with restoring spending, the Senate approved $134 billion worth of tax cuts over the next five years, a 34% increase above the $100 billion President Bush requested.