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The House Small Business Committee recently announced five Committee Democratic Members who will serve as Subcommittee Chairs for the 116th Congress. With the Democrats in charge of the House now, Small Business Trends got in touch with House Small Business Committee Chairwoman Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) to get an idea of the committee’s goals for 2019.
2019 House Small Business Committee Goals
Velázquez stressed a hands-on approach to tackling the issues small businesses face.
“I am looking to hold a wide range of hearings that will probe the diverse challenges facing America’s entrepreneurs. I am proud that we have an exciting group of new Members who will be serving as Subcommittee Chairs for the 116th Congress,” she wrote in an email.
“Through hearings at both the full and subcommittee levels, we will dive into the most pressing issues facing small firms such as access to capital, workforce development, exporting abroad, and expanding access to the federal procurement marketplace.”
The National Small Business Association recently placed the trained worker’s skills gap as the third priority issue for the 116th Congress. The association bookmarked several of the other points the committee flagged.
Velázquez also pointed to a focus on rural areas. She underlined a few of the digital issues facing small business there and acknowledged the impact of international trade disputes.
“As a Committee, we will look at how we can expand investments in SBA programs for rural areas, as well as address the most pressing issues facing rural entrepreneurs such as a lack of broadband, the opioid crisis, and the impact of tariffs on our small agricultural and manufacturing firms.”
Small Business Concerns
There were other long standing small business concerns like lack of access to traditional capital for loans that Velázquez said would be another one of the committee’s focuses. She said that when it comes to start-ups particularly, there were several other sources of funding like the SBA’s Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) program.
“The program was created as a source of financing to fill the gap between bank loans and more traditional equity capital. On the Committee, we constantly hear from entrepreneurs who need more flexible forms of capital investment, such as the SBIC program. The Committee will conduct work in this area to ensure that the SBA’s capital offerings keep pace with the needs of entrepreneurs.”
She pledged the Committee will work to make sure that any capital offerings from the SBA will be geared towards the flexible forms of capital investment start-ups need. There was at least one area where the incoming Chairwoman felt there was a special need for a bipartisan push from both sides of the aisle — infrastructure.
She noted how deteriorating infrastructure has a negative effect on the nation’s economy because transportation delays up expenses for small businesses. She also mentioned how any needed reform would benefit three small business sectors specifically.
“For small firms operating in sectors such as construction, manufacturing, and agriculture, a robust infrastructure package has the potential to fuel new jobs and innovation,” she wrote.
Expanding small business access to the federal procurement marketplace was another touchpoint. While Velázquez pointed to the ongoing work that’s been done in the area, she acknowledged much more needs to be accomplished.
“Despite recent advancements, disparities remain for small contractors and especially for traditionally underserved entrepreneurs when it comes to accessing the $500 billion a-year federal marketplace,” she writes. “Ensuring that small contractors are paid in a timely manner, expanding mentorship resources to underserved entrepreneurs, and ensuring proper oversight of existing initiatives are all steps the Committee must take towards leveling the playing field for small contractors and subcontractors.”
Velázquez offered a perspective on the Republican tax law that was at least partially geared toward small businesses.
“The Republican tax law is projected to add nearly two trillion dollars to our deficit and as we have heard on the Committee, provides little relief to small businesses. At the end of the day, we ought to be focused on tax reform that will increase compliance assistance for small firms and update the tax code to meet the needs of a 21st century workforce.”
The Small Business Committee’s Subcommittee Chairs for the 116th Congress are: Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D-IA) will Chair the Subcommittee on Rural Development, Agriculture, Trade, and Entrepreneurship. Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ) will Chair the Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Tax, and Capital Access. Rep. Jared Golden (D-ME) will Chair the Subcommittee on Contracting and Infrastructure. Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO) will Chair the Subcommittee on Innovation and Workforce Development. Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) will Chair the Subcommittee on Investigations, Oversight and Regulations.