(Washington, DC) – Last night (June 8), U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), the lead Democrat on the Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship, successfully advanced legislation in committee to improve access to Small Business Administration (SBA) programs for members of the National Guard and Reserves. The National Guard and Reserve Entrepreneurship Support Act would improve and increase access to the Military Reservists Economic Injury Disaster Loan (MREIDL) and the Repayment Deferral for Active Duty Reservists programs.
“Members of the National Guard and Reserve bravely defend our nation, and they should deploy with the peace of mind that their businesses will not suffer while they are away,” said Shaheen. “Citizen soldiers are a fundamental part of our nation’s military, and we need to do everything we can to support their service. Today’s bipartisan legislative progress is not only good news for service member entrepreneurs but also for our local communities and our economy.”
MREIDL is a direct loan program that provides emergency assistance to Guard/Reserve entrepreneurs experiencing hardship due to deployment, and Repayment Deferral for Activity Duty Reservists, authorizes SBA to work with lenders to defer interest or loan repayment for Guard and Reserve members facing similar situations. These programs were established by Congress in 1999 to assist small businesses led by Guardsmen/women and Reservists, but despite the benefits, the programs are underused due to lack of awareness.
Shaheen’s National Guard and Reserve Entrepreneurship Support Act, co-sponsored by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), would restructure the programs so that they are not limited to periods of conflict, reflecting the shift reserve forces have experienced over the past decade from a strategic reserve to an operational reserve. Recognizing that the underuse of MREIDL and Repayment Deferral is most often due to lack of awareness, Shaheen’s legislation would also direct SBA to work with the National Guard Bureau and State Adjutant Generals to identify existing SBA programs relevant to members of the Guard and Reserves, and develop more targeted and effective outreach, particularly prior to deployment.
The committee also approved bipartisan legislation, cosponsored by Senator Shaheen, to strengthen oversight of the 7(a) loan program, which helped lenders provide more than $23.5 billion in loans to small businesses last year. The bill included an amendment, based on legislation cosponsored by Senator Shaheen, to prevent potential shutdowns of the 7(a) loan program when demand is high.
Also advanced last night was bipartisan legislation cosponsored by Shaheen, the Small Business Cyber Security Improvements Act of 2016. This legislation would enhance support for small businesses facing increased threats to their cyber security. Recent reports have found that 90 percent of small to medium sized businesses do not protect customer information and 83 percent of small businesses do not have established cyber security plans. The Small Business Cyber Security Improvements Act will leverage the expertise of more than 900 Small Business Development Centers to support small businesses with the development of cyber security plans and allow the Department of Homeland Security to disseminate cyber security information to small businesses.
VLM Stone 6/29/2016