A Senate bill that would provide disaster loans and loan guarantees for small businesses affected by the September 11th attacks passed the Senate on Friday by a voice vote. Small Business Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Ranking Republican Christopher Bond (Mo.) negotiated with the White House to clear the way for the President's signature on the AOPA-backed bill, the American Small Business Emergency Relief and Recovery Act of 2001 (S.1499). The legislation will have to pass the House of Representatives, which is expected to take up the measure after the congressional spring recess, before it becomes law.
"Senators Kerry and Bond have been strong advocates for getting loans to the small businesses affected by the closure of Class B airspace," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "While AOPA is pleased that action is finally being taken on this legislation that will provide loans for small businesses, we recognize that small businesses are also in need of grants, so additional work is being done to get the GA-specific bills sponsored by Representative Mica and Senator Inhofe passed."
Sen. Kerry also voiced his concerns about the plight of the small businesses affected by the closure of Class B airspace after September 11. On November 1, 2001, Sen. Kerry sent a letter to the President, urging him "to make a portion of the $40 billion provided to the Office of the President" available to these businesses.
While Senators Kerry and Bond's legislation is not GA-specific, the bill would provide disaster loans to GA small businesses affected by the shutdown of airspace after the terrorist acts of September 11. The other AOPA-backed small business relief package (H.R.3347/S.2007), sponsored by Representative John Mica and Senator James Inhofe, includes more comprehensive GA relief, providing for $3 billion in federal loan guarantees and $2.5 billion in grants to GA entities suffering direct losses and incremental losses as a direct result of the terrorist attacks.
Senator Kerry's office told AOPA that the final details of his bill were worked out between senators Kerry and Bond and the White House last Wednesday. The original version of the bill, which provided $800 million in aid over five years, was considered too costly by the administration. The compromise legislation would provide $300 million over five years.
AOPA has pledged its support to getting small business relief legislation passed during this session of Congress. For more information, see AOPA's issue brief.