November 12, 2019

Senators Hirono, Sullivan Introduce Legislation to Expand Commercial Lending for Veteran Business Owners

Bipartisan bill would expand commercial lending for veteran-owned businesses through local credit unions

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Earlier today, Senators Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) introduced the Veterans Members Business Loan Act (S. 2834), which would expand commercial lending for veteran business owners and entrepreneurs through local credit unions. Specifically, the bill would exempt credit unions' business loans to veterans from current statutory caps on member business lending. The bill covers loans made to veterans who served on active duty and were discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable. There are approximately 11,000 veteran-owned businesses in Hawaii.

“Veteran business owners and entrepreneurs play an important role in Hawaii’s economy. The Veterans Members Business Loan Act will help to help make entrepreneurship an option for more veterans as they transition back to civilian life, or give established veteran-owned businesses access to capital to grow and create more local jobs,” Senator Hirono said. “I thank my colleague, Senator Sullivan, for working with me to introduce this important legislation as we mark Veterans and Military Families Month.”

“Our veterans have sacrificed so much to serve our country and it is important that they are afforded every opportunity to succeed after leaving the military,”Senator Sullivan said. “Service members develop broad expertise across numerous areas while in the military, learning skills that can provide tremendous value to the economy. This bill eliminates common barriers of entry for veteran entrepreneurs to ensure they have access to the capital and resources they need to establish businesses and succeed in their ventures.”

S. 2834 is the companion to similar legislation introduced earlier this year in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representatives Vicente Gonzalez (D-Texas-15), Paul Cook (R-Calif.-8), Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii-2), and Don Young (R-Alaska-AL).

The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and the Hawaii Credit Union League (HCUL) support the legislation.

“This bipartisan bill will make it easier for America’s veterans to access credit and invest in their future and their communities. Credit unions proudly serve tens of millions of active duty and veteran members and fully support veteran entrepreneurs and their families," CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle said. "We thank Senators Sullivan and Hirono for their leadership on this issue, and look forward to engaging with lawmakers as this bill moves through the legislative process.”

“U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono has been a long-time credit union member herself, as well as a strong supporter of credit unions and the role they play in their members’ lives. She is also a member of the Senate Committee on Armed Services who recognizes the importance of the military in our national security and the economy," HCUL President Dennis Tanimoto said. “Timing of this bill she is cosponsoring is especially fitting since it coincides with Veterans Day.  The bill helps to ensure veterans of access to affordable loans and other services from nonprofit financial cooperatives known as credit unions.” 

As a member of the U.S. Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, Senator Hirono has been a persistent advocate for veteran business owners and entrepreneurs. Earlier this year, Senator Hirono and Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) reintroduced the Veterans Small Business Export Promotion Act, which would waive upfront guarantee fees for veterans participating in the U.S. Small Business Administration’s export promotion programs.

Last week, Senator Hirono cosponsored a resolution to recognize National Veterans Small Business Week in the United States. The resolution passed the Senate by unanimous consent.