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Small Business Bill Blocked By Senate Republicans; Murray Spoke on Senate Floor Urging Support

Jul 29 2010

Murray also discussed her fight to include a teacher jobs amendment that would prevent teacher layoffs in Washington state

Watch Senator Murray's speech

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) spoke on the Senate floor to strongly urge her colleagues to support the Small Business Lending Fund and State Small Business Credit Initiative. The bill was brought to a vote shortly after her speech, and it failed to get 60 votes after being blocked by Republicans on a 58-42 vote. 

In her speech, Senator Murray discussed the dire need to get credit flowing to small businesses in Washington state so they can expand and create jobs.

“This is a nonpartisan bill,” said Senator Patty Murray. “This is a bill that puts credit back into the hands of our small business owners. This is a bill that puts people back to work…I urge all my colleagues to listen to the voices of their constituents and small business owners across the country and to support this bill”

The bill would create the Small Business Lending Fund, which sets aside $30 billion dollars to help local community banks get the capital they need to lend money to small businesses.  It would also help support small business initiatives run by states across the country that are struggling due to local budget cutbacks. Murray has been a long-time advocate for a $30 billion fund to help community banks lend to small businesses. Last year she introduced similar legislation, and she talked directly to Secretary Geithner and President Obama about making this happen.

Murray also spoke about her work to prevent thousands of teacher layoffs across the country:

“I also want to note that I have worked very hard to include funding to help save over 130,000 teacher jobs in this bill – and that that effort  has been blocked by Republicans obstruction. Every day brings more reports about the continuing wave of layoffs affecting school districts across the country.  And we have to remember - every time we lose a teacher, it’s not only the teacher and our economy that suffers, it’s the kids in every single one of our states.”

The full text of Senator Murray’s speech follows:

“Madam President, on Tuesday I came to the floor to voice my support for this bill by telling the stories of all of the small business owners, in every corner of my state, who have struggled to get credit since this recession began.

“I talked about people who are driven by their passions, who want to grow their business, who want to hire, but who have been stymied by the lack of credit flowing from banks.

“I talked about the drivers of our economy and job creation.

“But Madam President, if small businesses are the driver of our economic recovery than our community banks are the engine.

“And right now, that engine is in neutral.

“That’s because for far too long our community banks have been ignored in our economic recovery.

“Since this recession began we have seen banks fail one after another, lending dry up to our small businesses, and job growth suffer.

“While Wall Street institutions like AIG and Goldman Sachs were deemed “too big to fail”, the collapse of our community banks has apparently been “too small to notice.”

“That’s why last year I introduced The Main Street Lending Restoration Act, which would direct 30 billion dollars to help jumpstart small business lending.

“It’s why I spoke to Secretary Geithner and President Obama about this directly—and why I have been pushing my colleagues hard to make small business lending a priority. 

“I’ve felt strongly that we must focus more on the community banks if we were really going to make progress and bring true recovery to Main Street businesses.

“And it’s why I am so proud to stand here today and support this bill that would create the Small Business Lending Fund and State Small Business Credit initiative.

“The small business lending fund takes the most powerful idea from my Main Street Lending Restoration Act.

“It sets aside 30 billion dollars to help our local community banks—those under 10 billion dollars in assets – to help them get the capital they need to begin lending money to small businesses again.

“It would reward the banks that are helping our small businesses grow by reducing interest rates on capital they receive under the program.

“It would help support small business initiatives run by states across the country that are struggling due to local budget cutbacks.

“And does it all while saving taxpayers an estimated $1 billion.

“It is a bill Madam President that should have across the board support.

“And in fact it does from small business groups of all stripes, community bankers, and so many other across the country have found common cause with the benefits of this bill.

“But once again we are faced with opposition here in the Senate from those on the other side of the aisle.

“Once again a common sense bill - a bill that will save taxpayers money - is held hostage by political calculations.

“Madam President – I think an editorial in yesterday’s Seattle Times on this bill summed up some of the frustration in living rooms and communities across the country very well on the obstruction we see every day.

“The editorial first noted the importance of this bill by saying ‘Economic recovery is all about jobs. And American consumers, who help power the economy, are spending less in the shadow of a shaky employment market. Small banks lending to small businesses puts people to work. Access to credit is key. Helping Main Street rekindles hiring, boosts consumer confidence in overall business conditions, and fuels the recovery.’

“The editorial went on to say that this amendment is ‘part of a larger package of legislation for small business and Main Street America that has attracted scant Republican interest or support’

“And then the editorial briefly but very accurately summarized what I think so many across our country are thinking when they return from home pounding the pavement looking for work only to turn on their TV to see that a bill like this is blocked.

“It said - ‘Nothing should be more nonpartisan than putting people back to work.’

“It’s a line that should speak volumes in this chamber.

“Because it’s a line that truly represents how so many of our constituents feel.

“This is a nonpartisan bill.

“This is a bill that puts credit back into the hands of our small business owners.

“This is a bill that puts people back to work.

“And nothing should be more nonpartisan than putting people back to work.

“I urge all my colleagues to listen to the voices of their constituents and small business owners across the country and to support this bill

“But M. President, I also want to note that I have worked very hard to include funding to help save over 130,000 teacher jobs in this bill – and that that effort  has been blocked by Republicans obstruction.

“Every day brings more reports about the continuing wave of layoffs affecting school districts across the country. 

“And we have to remember - every time we lose a teacher, it’s not only the teacher and our economy that suffers, it’s the kids in every single one of our states.

“Whether it’s through larger class sizes, scaled down services, or even shortened school weeks, too often it’s our most vulnerable that are paying the price for this recession.

“My amendment was a fiscally responsible way to ensure that our state’s schoolchildren and the hard-working teachers aren’t the victims of struggling state budgets. And blocking its consideration is a serious mistake.

“I will continue to fight to ensure that our teachers return in September to classrooms and not pink slips.

“I yield the floor.”