Durbin, Vitter Bill to Level Playing Field for Veteran-Owned Small Businesses Passes Committee

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Senator David Vitter (R-LA), Chairman of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee, today praised the passage of the Veterans Small Business Enhancement Act through the Small Business Committee. Their bipartisan legislation – which would allow veteran-owned small businesses to participate in the General Services Administration’s (GSA) surplus property program – now must be voted on by the full Senate.  U.S. Representative Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) has introduced a companion measure in the House of Representatives.


“I am proud to join Senator Vitter and Representative Duckworth in introducing the Veterans Small Business Enhancement Act to encourage small business growth and give veteran opportunities to succeed,” Durbin said. “Veterans throughout Illinois have already contacted me to let me know how the surplus property program could help them reduce overhead costs and invest those resources in growing their business and creating jobs.  This is common sense legislation that I look forward to voting in favor of on the Senate floor.”


“Veteran-owned small businesses deserve the same opportunities as all other small businesses, and in the case of excess federal property, our nation’s veterans certainly deserve the same access to the federal government’s excess office equipment, computers, and tools,” said Vitter. “I am proud to join Senator Durbin in leveling the playing field for our veterans and their small businesses.”


The Durbin-Vitter legislation would expand access to the federal surplus program to include veteran-owned small businesses, which account for approximately 9% of all small businesses in the United States. The surplus property program makes available excess federal property, such as vehicles, computers, office equipment, tools, and heavy construction equipment at no cost except shipping and handling.


Currently, if excess federal property is not claimed or donated, the federal government must pay to dispose of it – a costly and time-consuming undertaking. The National Association of State Agencies for Surplus Property, which helps facilitate the GSA’s excess federal property program, estimates that taking surplus property off the federal government’s hands and pairing it with those who could use it saved the U.S. $200 million in 2013.


Durbin’s office has been contacted by several veteran-owned small businesses throughout Illinois that would benefit from this program. For contact information and interview opportunities, please e-mail Maria McElwain at maria_mcelwain@durbin.senate.gov


  • Larry Chism is a retired Marine Corps veteran who owns and operates Lincoln Trail Family Campground in Tallula, Illinois. Although it’s a smaller campground, Mr. Chism says that the majority of campers are veterans.  His small business could benefit from maintenance supplies typically found in the federal surplus program, especially equipment needed to install much-needed electric and water lines.


  • Jim Ward is a retired Army veteran who owns a popular tile company in Mt. Sterling, Illinois. Mr. Ward’s small business could benefit from maintenance equipment typically found in the federal surplus program, including tile-saws and cutters, knee pads, mixers, scrapers, trowels and other hand tools.
  • Jim Sodaro owns a bar and a snow removal business in Springfield, Illinois. There are quite a few surplus items that would help him operate his businesses and free up his resources for paying employees and overhead. The bar could benefit from things like tables, brooms, paint, and hand tools, and the snow removal business needs a pick-up truck or other vehicle.    


  • Jason Harris is a Marine Corps veteran who runs a popular landscaping business in Carbondale, Illinois. “Shawnee Landscaping” designs and installs patios, fencing, and retaining walls for gardens and porches. This small business would benefit from federal surplus equipment – everything from bobcats, tractors and loaders, to hand tools, and office supplies.


  • Thomas Lomelino is a retired Army veteran and owner of the Lomelino Sign Company in Jacksonville, Illinois. Mr. Lomelino makes and installs advertising signs.  His company could use a bucket truck, a backhoe, or other equipment needed for installation and maintenance of signs.