Bipartisan Duckworth-Kennedy-Durbin Bill Would Help Strengthen Veteran-Owned Small Businesses

WASHINGTON, D.C – U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), John Kennedy (R-LA) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced bipartisan legislation today to help expand economic opportunity for Veteran small business owners. The Veterans Small Business Enhancement Act 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. “This bill will help Veteran-owned businesses expand their operations, reduce costs, and create jobs across Illinois and around the country. Our nation should be doing much more to help our Veterans and I’ll be working with Senators Kennedy and Durbin and other members on both sides of the aisle to pass this legislation.”

“Our nation’s heroes deserve every bit of support we can give when they return home from their service,” said Sen. Kennedy. “This bill empowers veteran entrepreneurs by increasing their access to affordable equipment and property. Helping veterans’ small businesses succeed will help create jobs and grow our economy. I will continue to work for the men and women who have devoted their lives to serve and protect our country. ”

“Part of honoring the sacrifice our nation’s veterans have made means supporting them when they return home,” said Durbin. “That is why I am proud to join Senators Tammy Duckworth and John Kennedy in introducing the Veterans Small Business Enhancement Act, which would encourage small business growth and give veterans opportunities to succeed at home.”

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.

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) and the National Association of State Agencies for Surplus Property (NASASP).

“As President of the National Association of State Agencies for Surplus Property representing all 50 states, 6 territories and over 67,000 donees around the country as part of the Federal surplus Property program, we commend Sen. Duckworth for her initiative and vision to secure, for over 2.5 Million veterans who own small businesses, the opportunity to secure surplus property for their operations,” said Kristy Fierro, President of the NASASP. “By introducing the “Veterans Small Business Enhancement Act, Sen Duckworth has taken the lead to help those men and women who have served our country by allowing them to access surplus property through our state agencies. Through the donation of vehicles, equipment, and other property, Veterans can grow their businesses, thereby creating jobs and increasing the tax base for localities, and most importantly, helping Veterans in America succeed. NASASP will support passage of this legislation as it is considered in the US Congress and we look forward to working with the federal government to make this a reality.”