WASHINGTON-The House last week passed by unanimous consent a funding package for the Small Business Administration’s popular 7(a) lending program (H.R. 4062). Changes in the funding structure would provide an additional $3 billion to the program, which SBA is trying to take out of the appropriations process. Earlier this year, the 7(a) program was shut down for about a week because appropriations were held up. Under the House passed version of the bill, SBA could lift the $750,000 cap on 7(a) loans to its usual $2 million. It would also permit lenders to use the SBA Express program for loans up to $2 million, as opposed to the current $250,000. SBA Express allows lenders to use their own paperwork for loan applications, but lowers the guarantee to 50% from the potential of 75%. “This bill will help create a bigger, better 7(a) program,” SBA Administrator Hector Barreto said. “By increasing the 7(a) program’s lending authority, the SBA will be able to guarantee an additional 30,000 loans this year alone – loans which will create or retain half a million jobs for hard working Americans.” Barreto recently testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, State, Judiciary, and Related Agencies on SBA’s funding. The legislation is now in the Senate’s hands. SBA is trying to move its 7(a) program out of the appropriations process, as it has done with its other programs, to prevent another lending stoppage.

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