WASHINGTON (10/29/09)--The House and Senate each passed legislation Wednesday that would temporarily extend U.S. Small Business Administration programs. The Senate approved S. 1929 and in a statement following the passage of the bill, author Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) said that the extension is intended to ensure “that the agency has the stability it needs to provide our innovators and job creators the assistance they need to remain successful.” The House then approved a similar bill, clearing the way for the authorization to be sent to the White House for the president’s signature once differences are worked out between the two bills. The House measure extends the programs through January and the Senate bill pushes them into April. Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.), chairwoman of the House Committee on Small Business, said of the House action, “This will allow small businesses to go on using the valuable services of the SBA, while the House and the Senate continue our work to comprehensively reauthorize the Small Business Administration.” She noted that later this week the House will consider H.R. 3854, a bill to comprehensively update the SBA’s capital access initiatives. The SBA late last month also extended its Gulf Opportunity Pilot Loan Program, which provided 301 loans to small businesses in areas affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, for a total of $25.2 million in funds during 2008. That program will continue until Sept. 30, 2010. Small business lending has also been a focus of the Obama administration, with the president last week announcing a series of initiatives aimed at spurring small business lending. Credit Union National Association President/CEO Dan Mica has offered CUNA’s assistance in the event that the administration, the U.S. Treasury Department, Congress, and the SBA decide to "achieve higher limits for key SBA programs, such as 7(a) and 504 programs." Credit unions can provide loans to businesses through these programs. However, CUNA also steadfastly recommends that legislators lift the current cap on member business lending (MBL) by credit unions to 25% of a credit union's total assets, a move which CUNA has estimated could provide as mush as $10 billion in new small business loans. A bill that would lift the MBL cap, H.R. 3380, is currently awaiting action in the House Financial Services Committee.