The Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship this week unanimously approved a bill to boost federal lending programs for small businesses.

Among other provisions, the Small Business Lending Reauthorization and Improvements Act would create a lending program for businesses that aren't eligible for the Small Business Administration's standard 7(a) and 504 loans. It also raises loan limits for businesses trading in foreign markets, as well as loans for business in low-income communities.

The bill also seeks to salvage the ailing microloan program, which offers smaller loans to start-ups and other microentrepreneurs.

"These programs will leverage $87 billion in loans to America's small businesses, filling a critical gap regular markets do not meet -- especially in underserved communities," Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), the committee chairman, said in a statement.

The bill is expected to be debated on the Senate floor in the weeks ahead.

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Published on: May 17, 2007