WASHINGTON, D.C. – A bipartisan bill introduced by U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), John Kennedy (R-LA) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) to help Veteran entrepreneurs grow their small businesses, create jobs and expand economic opportunity is now law after being signed by the President. The Veterans Small Business Enhancement Act, legislation that overwhelmingly passed both the Senate and the House in December, would allow Veteran small business owners to acquire equipment and personal property that the federal government no longer has a use for by adding Veterans to the list of eligible recipients for federal surplus personal property, which already includes women and minority small business owners as well as Veterans Service Organizations. This is the third standalone bill introduced by Senator Duckworth that became law in the 115th Congress.

“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. “Our nation should be doing much more to help our Veterans, and I’m thrilled we were able to work with members of both sides of the aisle to pass our bipartisan bill that will help Veterans expand their business operations, reduce costs and create jobs across Illinois and around the country.

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“All veterans need and deserve our utmost respect and support after they return home,” said Sen. Kennedy. “As Americans, we should encourage those veterans who decide to start their own small businesses. The federal surplus property program is already established, so it’s just common sense that we should allow veterans to qualify for the program. I’m happy to see this legislation become law.”

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“Countless veterans are entrepreneurs and small business owners making contributions to their communities, but many struggle with the costs of starting a new business idea,” said Durbin. “With the Veterans Small Business Enhancement Act now signed into law, veterans can access GSA’s federal surplus property program, which can help them save costs as they open new businesses and store fronts. This was a commonsense and bipartisan bill, and I was proud to join Senators Duckworth and Kennedy to help get it to the finish line.”

The General Services Administration (GSA) has overseen distribution of federal surplus personal property for 15 years in partnership with the Small Business Administration (SBA) and State Agencies for Surplus Property (SASP) through the Federal Surplus Property Donation Program. When there is no federal need for excess personal 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), the American Legion, the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), the National Association of State Agencies for Surplus Property (NASASP), the Association of the United States Army (AUSA), and the Military Offices Association of America (MOAA).

American Legion National Commander Brett P. Reistad has previously said: “The American Legion supports legislation that would give veteran-owned small businesses access to surplus federal property. Unclaimed surplus property costs the federal government millions of dollars to dispose of or maintain every year. This same surplus property may help small businesses offset the overhead expenses associated with opening a storefront or office, which benefits the United States.”

As a member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, which passed the Veterans Small Business Enhancement Act last month, 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.

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