Luetkemeyer Remarks: Update on SBA’s Pandemic Response Programs
Washington, April 20, 2021
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the House Committee on Small Business is holding a hybrid hearing titled "Update on SBA’s Pandemic Response Programs.”
Ranking Member Blaine Luetkemeyer's opening statement as prepared for delivery:
Thank you, Madam Chair. Good morning to all of you and a special thank you to Mr. Shear and Mr. Ware for taking time to speak with us today.
The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown never before seen obstacles in front of every American, especially our nation’s small business. From the devastating state and local shut downs, to the struggle to find access to sufficient capital and employees to help them survive, our country has never faced a disruptive problem like this.
Regardless of who has held the gavel over the years, Congress, and specifically this Committee, has long held the view that small businesses are vital to the health of the nation’s economy and security. The Small Business Act of 1953 and the Small Business Investment Act of 1958 established that the U.S. Small Business Administration’s function is to “aid, counsel, assist, and protect, insofar as possible, the interests of small business concerns.” This continues to hold true today, nearly 70 years later. Equally important to these roles is the need for the SBA to maintain vigorous oversight of its own programs.
Unfortunately, we have seen numerous blunders (and I use that term very politely) as the SBA has neglected to be good stewards of our constituents’ tax dollars. Over the course of the last year, we have seen countless stories of how the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL), and the EIDL Advances have benefitted small businesses, kept employees on their payroll, and helped pay their mortgage, rent, or utilities. Without these critical programs, more of our country’s smallest firms would have been closed permanently, and millions of employees would have been out of work.
That is the good news. The bad news is that the SBA has mismanaged these programs and opened them up to unprecedented levels of waste, fraud, and abuse, limiting their effectiveness and frivolously squandering taxpayer dollars that could help our economy move forward. This is unacceptable. We will hear from the SBA’s Inspector General and the federal government’s watchdog, the Government Accountability Office, during this hearing citing specific examples of troubling failures by the SBA in administering these life-saving programs.
Those of us on this side of the aisle have been working diligently to help rectify these problems. Over the initial months of the 117th Congress, Small Business Committee Republicans offered numerous constructive amendments to President Biden’s COVID relief bill that moved through Congress via the reconciliation process. More specifically, we offered amendments that would enhance and improve the oversight of the SBA’s COVID programs. For example, we offered amendments that would significantly increase the appropriation for the SBA’s Office of Inspector General and provisions to expand oversight of the SBA programs, specifically calling on the Administrator to closely examine waste, fraud, and abuse within the EIDL programs. And while my colleagues on the other side of the aisle had many kind things to say about most of our ideas at the time, not one Democrat voted for any of our amendments.