Washington, D.C. –Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill authored by Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) to help small businesses recover from natural disasters. Following the costliest year on record for damage inflicted by natural disaster, Velázquez’s bill, H.R. 4792, the Small Business Access to Capital after a Natural Disaster Act, would help local small businesses secure the loans and capital they need to rebuild. Specifically, the Act would require the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) Office of the Advocate for Small Business Capital Formation to identify and address the unique challenges that small businesses and investors face in securing access to capital after a disaster.
“When disaster strikes, local small businesses are especially hard hit,” said Velázquez. “Facing a combination of lost revenue and structural damage, many firms are forced to close their doors, sometimes for good. This bill would take decisive action to provide small business owners with capital they need to rebuild and get local economies moving again after disasters. I’m pleased my colleagues have seen fit to pass this legislation with such strong bipartisan support.”
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), over 40 percent of small businesses never reopen after a disaster. In Puerto Rico, small and midsize businesses make up ninety percent of private companies on the Island. After Hurricane Maria, two-thirds of these firms have been forced to close, at least temporarily. In New York and New Jersey, over five years since Superstorm Sandy, local communities continue to suffer from millions in lost revenue after businesses have been forced to close or delay reopening.
Established in 2016, the SEC’s Office of the Advocate for Small Business Capital Formation is tasked with identifying issues and proposing changes to benefit small businesses and their investors. Velázquez’s bill requires the Advocate to now also consider the unique challenges that small businesses affected by natural disasters have with securing access to credit and to work to promote their interests.
Velázquez is the third most senior Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee and Ranking Member of the House Committee on Small Business. The Small Business Access to Capital after a Natural Disaster Act passed in the House with bipartisan support. The legislation must now be considered in the U.S. Senate.