Congress tables small-business lending measures before August recess.
See you in September -- that's the message Congress sent to small businesses looking for help in getting loans.
Before leaving Washington for its August recess, Congress failed to complete action on legislation that would make Small Business Administration loans more available and provide community banks with up to $30 billion in cheap capital for use in making small business loans.
Chances of the Small Business Jobs Act being enacted before September ended when the Senate failed to resolve a procedural dispute on the legislation before the House recessed July 30.
This means SBA lenders will go at least another month without a 90 percent government guarantee on the agency's flagship 7(a) loans. That enhancement, an increase from the typical 75 percent guarantee, was created by the economic stimulus bill and expired June 1. The higher guarantee made SBA loans less risky for lenders.
Fee waivers on 7(a) loans and the SBA's 504 loans, which are used primarily to finance real estate, also expired June 1. These breaks made the loans more affordable for small businesses.
The higher guarantee and lower fees helped revitalize SBA lending after it cratered during the financial crisis of 2008. More than $200 million in 7(a) loans were being made each week before June 1. That weekly volume fell to below $100 million, on average, in June and remained under $130,000 in July.
Congress' failure to reinstate the 7(a) loan breaks means that SBA lending will remain depressed through August and into September, said Tony Wilkinson, president and CEO of the National Association of Government Guaranteed Lenders. Plus, many of the 1,300 lenders who returned to SBA lending because of the higher guarantee and fee waivers "are beginning to question why," he said.
"They can't count on anything in Congress being done in a timely fashion," he said.