Championing federal programs that will help travel agents remains a top priority for ASTA. Most recently, the House Small Business Committee’s recent passage of a long-awaited package of reforms to federally-backed small business lending practices won ASTA’s endorsement. The legislation, H.R. 3854, the Small Business Financing and Investment Act, includes a variety of provisions to make it easier for travel agents and other small-business owners to survive the recession.
In its endorsement letter, ASTA praised Small Business Committee Chairwoman Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) for including in the bill a new Capital Backstop program, which would authorize the Small Business Administration (SBA) to underwrite, close and fund loans in certain circumstances - a provision that ASTA has been seeking since November 2008.
ASTA notes that it has worked with the Small Business Committee, the Small Business Administration and other Congressional committees to promote legislation that would remove obstacles to obtaining federal loans. In December 2008, ASTA wrote to the incoming Obama Administration’s transition team and to Congress to request that the SBA be given expanded authority to lend directly to cash-strapped small businesses.
ASTA has also advocated measures that would reduce the paperwork burden on loan applicants, reduce application processing fees and shorten the loan-approval process.
In addition to its support for SBA lending reform, ASTA has endorsed legislation to increase the maximum tax deduction for small business startup expenses and a bill to create a ‘check-the-box’ deduction for home office expenses.
While no date has been announced for a vote, H.R. 3854 is expected to be voted on by the full House of Representatives sometime before the end of the year, ASTA reports.