Running out of emergency cash

US Capitol Building

TEXT OF STORY

LISA NAPOLI: Lots of messy weather disasters around the country right now. And that puts a fine point on something that's got Congress scrambling. The federal emergency loan program that helps people hit by natural disasters is about to run out of money. From Washington, Nancy Marshall Genzer reports.


NANCY MARSHALL GENZER: We're talking about the federal government's biggest disaster loan program run by the Small Business Administration.

The program's in trouble, partly because of poor planning. The Small Business Administration decided not to ask Congress for administrative funds last year.

And critics say the agency didn't plan well for Hurricane Katrina either. Marianne Lewis is a small business owner in New Orleans.

MARIANNE LEWIS: They would give you $10,000 and then you would be forced to wait, and submit a lot more paperwork and invoices.

Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, the New York Democrat now chairing the House Small Business Committee, says Congress won't let the loan money run out, but isn't signing a blank check.

NYDIA VELAZQUEZ: It's not going to be like in previous Congresses. There's going to be measurements and oversight.

For example, Congress may try to bypass the bureaucrats and have banks distribute the loans.

In Washington, I'm Nancy Marshall Genzer for Marketplace.

About the author

Nancy Marshall-Genzer is a senior reporter for Marketplace based in Washington, D.C. covering daily news.

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