Senate Passes Bipartisan Duckworth-Kennedy-Durbin Legislation to Strengthen Veteran-Owned Small Businesses
[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – The U.S. Senate unanimously passed bipartisan legislation today that was introduced by U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), John Kennedy (R-LA) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) to help Veteran entrepreneurs grow their small businesses and expand economy opportunity. The Veterans Small Business Enhancement Act, which now heads to the U.S. House of Representatives, would allow Veteran small business owners to acquire equipment and property that the federal government no longer has a use for by adding Veterans to the list of eligible recipients for federal surplus personal property, which already includes women and minority small business owners as well as Veterans Service Organizations.
“When our Veterans return home from their service, they deserve our full support as they transition back into civilian life, and that includes supporting their efforts to build and manage a small business,” said Duckworth. “Our nation should be doing much more to help our Veterans and I’m pleased the Senate unanimously passed our bipartisan bill to help Veterans expand their business operations, reduce costs, and create jobs across Illinois and around the country. I’ll be working with Senators Kennedy and Durbin, as well as other members on both sides of the aisle, to send this legislation to the President’s desk.”
“All veterans deserve our utmost respect and support after they return home,” said Sen. Kennedy. “Adjusting back to civilian life can be challenging, and as policy makers, we should try to make the transition as seamless and painless as possible. As Americans, we should support and encourage those veterans who decide to start their own small businesses. This legislation will hopefully give veteran entrepreneurs some well-deserved support. The federal surplus property program is already established, so it’s just common sense that we should allow veterans to qualify for the program. I’m happy to see that my Senate colleagues feel the same.”
“Last month we honored the sacrifices of our nation’s veterans, and part of that commemoration is committing to help America’s warriors when they return from battle and transition to civilian life. Countless veterans are entrepreneurs and small business owners making contributions to their communities, but many struggle with the costs of starting a new business idea,” said Durbin. “With passage of the Veterans Small Business Enhancement Act, veterans can now use GAO’s federal property surplus program, which can help veterans save costs as they open new businesses and store fronts. This is a commonsense and bipartisan bill, and I was proud to join Senators Duckworth and Kennedy to help pass it in the Senate.”
The General Services Administration (GSA) has overseen distribution of federal surplus personal property for 15 years in partnership with the Small Business Administration (SBA) and State Agencies for Surplus Property (SASP) through the Federal Surplus Property Donation Program. When there is no federal need for excess property, SASPs disburse the property to eligible recipients who otherwise may have been unable to acquire it. This legislation is supported by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), the National Association of State Agencies for Surplus Property (NASASP) and the American Legion.
American Legion National Commander Brett P. Reistad has previously said: “The American Legion supports legislation that would give veteran-owned small businesses access to surplus federal property. Unclaimed surplus property costs the federal government millions of dollars to dispose of or maintain every year. This same surplus property may help small businesses offset the overhead expenses associated with opening a storefront or office, which benefits the United States.”
As a member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, which passed the Veterans Small Business Enhancement Act last month, Senator Duckworth has advocated for the more than 2.5 million Veteran-owned small business across the country, including the approximately 80,700 in Illinois. As more Iraq and Afghanistan-era Veterans transition out of the military and begin their next career, this number will only increase.
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