Congress Favors SBIC Budget Boost –

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House of Representatives in February passed a bill authorizing a significant budget increase to the Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) program, signaling Congress’ support of government efforts to help the venture capital community.

In a vote of 402 to 2, the House passed the Small Business Investment Company Technical Corrections Act of 1999, which increases the SBIC’s current budget to $1.2 billion from $1 billion for the 1999 fiscal year and to $1.5 billion from $1.2 billion for 2000.

The Senate, however, is working on its own version of a bill to increase the amount of federal loans allocated to SBICs. The Senate Committee on Small Business in early March approved the Small Business Investment Improvement Act of 1999, but it has yet to reach the Senate floor for a vote.

Both the House and Senate bills will be merged into a single draft that must be re-routed through Congress, said Lee Mercer, president of the National Association Small Business Investment Companies (NASBIC). Once approved by both Houses, President Clinton is expected to sign the legislation by the end of March, according to the Senate Committee on Small Business.

Mike Stamler, a spokesperson for the Small Business Administration, believes that legislators overall have welcomed the proposed budget increase. “It’s a general agreement that there will be good feelings when [SBIC] appropriations are discussed,” he said. “That’s a good sign.”