Chamber urges Senate to support cloture and pass H.R. 2673
January 16, 2004
The Honorable Bill Frist
Senate Majority Leader
S-230, The Capitol
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Majority Leader Frist:
As you prepare for the final debate on H.R. 2673, the FY04 Consolidated Appropriations Conference Report, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, representing more than 3 million businesses and organizations of every size sector and region, urges you to vote in favor of cloture, and to support swift passage of this overdue measure.
We realize that no omnibus spending measure can be perfect, but this seven spending bill package contains critical funding for our Nation's transportation infrastructure and for small business loans, which drive key components of sustained economic growth.
We applaud the record amount of funding provided for the highway and public transportation programs contained in the Transportation and Treasury section of the conference report. This investment of $33.6 billion for highways and $7.3 billion for transit is critical as Congress prepares to reauthorize these programs this year. The U.S. Chamber asks for your continued efforts to ensure that our transportation infrastructure receives the investment it needs throughout our nation.
Economic prosperity and job creation are important to our Nation's long-term vitality and success on the world stage. Failure to pass this conference report could lead to limited funding levels for "access to capital" programs contained in the Small Business Administrations (SBA) budget. One program, the SBA 7(a), is currently operating under severe funding restrictions. As a result, at a time when our economy needs the efforts of these entrepreneurs to grow their businesses and create new jobs, the very program many small business owners will turn to for capital is deficient in lending capacity.
Some would seek to delay or defeat H.R. 2673 by insisting on mandatory country -of -origin labeling. These demands for sweeping food labeling requirements were spurred by a single documented case of mad cow disease in the United States. There is no strong evidence that such labeling will increase public safety. Instead, both the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have already undertaken the appropriate measures by immediately putting into place new and rigorous testing safeguards to prevent further spread of mad cow disease.
It is critical to complete work on this important piece of legislation as quickly as possible so that Congress can focus its attention on other high priority items on the calendar. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce urges you to support cloture and final passage of H.R. 2673.
R. Bruce Josten
Executive Vice President, Government Affairs
U.S. Chamber of Commerce