WASHINGTON - The Senate has approved an amendment sponsored by Sen. Dale Bumpers, D-Ark., appropriating $175 million for the Small Business Administration's main loan guarantee program.

The appropriation, which would make it possible for the SBA to back $3.3 billion in loans, was accepted on a voice vote last week. The supplemental appropriations bill including the Bumpers amendment faces a final vote Tuesday.

The house previously approved a supplemental appropriation of $ 175 million for the SBA section 7(a) program. The measure was sponsored by Rep. Neal Smith, D-Iowa.

Well Ran Dry in April

This is a very important program for small business," said Kenneth A. Guenther, executive vice president of the Independent Bankers Association of America. "A lot of small-business loans wouldn't be made without 7(a) guarantees."

The guarantee program ran out of funds April 27. Because the House and Senate have similar amounts, negotiators are expected to have an easy time agreeing on a final bill.

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