WASHINGTON (12/17/09)--Funding for some U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) programs will continue for another two months after the House of Representatives passed a $636.3 billion defense appropriations bill by a vote of of 395-34 on Thursday. While the bill is aimed to fund the Department of Defense for 2010, portions of legislation added to the bill would grant the SBA $125 million in funds for its business loan program. The funds will, according to a House summary, allow the SBA to “continue two temporary enhancements to its loan guarantee program through February 28, 2010 to make loans more attractive to borrowers and lenders and to free up capital.” Recognizing that “small businesses represent a major engine for the U.S. economy,” but have “had a difficult time securing needed loans in these tight economic times,” the legislation would permit the SBA to raise the percentage of loan amounts that it can guarantee to 90%. The SBA would also be given the authority “to waive or reduce loan fees.” The SBA extension is “fully offset,” according to the House summary. Speaking at the National Press Club earlier this week, SBA Administrator Karen Mills said that involving additional lending partners, including credit unions, in SBA guaranteed loan programs is the "right formula" to get more credit to markets currently being underserved. The Credit Union National Association has also supported lifting the member business lending cap for credit unions, which currently stands at 12.25%, as another means of providing the funding that many small businesses need.