October 11, 2018

Senate Small Business Committee Passes Bipartisan Duckworth-Kennedy-Durbin Legislation to Help Strengthen Veteran-owned Small Businesses


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Today, the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship passed bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), John Kennedy (R-LA) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) to help expand economic opportunity for Veteran entrepreneurs. The Veterans Small Business Enhancement Act, which will now be considered by the full Senate, 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 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 committee passed our bipartisan bill to help them 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.”

“Small business owners are the backbone of our country, and we wouldn’t even have a country if it weren’t for veterans. Our veterans sacrificed so much for our country, and the least we can do is support them,” said Kennedy. “This federal surplus property program is already in place, so it only seems right that we should allow veterans to qualify for the program.”

“Part of honoring the sacrifice our nation’s veterans have made means supporting them when they return home,” said Durbin. “The Veterans Small Business Enhancement Act does just that, by encouraging small business growth and giving veterans opportunities to succeed at home.  I’m proud to work with my colleagues, Senators Tammy Duckworth and John Kennedy, on this important bill and look forward to it being considered by the full Senate next.”

The General Services Administration (GSA) has overseen distribution of federal surplus property for 15 years in partnership with the Small Business Administration (SBA) and State Agencies for Surplus Property (SASP). 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 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, 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.