Contracting, Lending and Visa Bills Await Action

November 28, 2012

Several key small-business issues remain on Congress’s to-do list for the lame duck session, specifically the the FY 13 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the Small Business Lending Enhancement Act (S. 2231), and the STEM Jobs Act (H.R. 6429). All three bills address very important issues for America’s small-business community, and NSBA is urging lawmakers to reach across the aisle and enact these key pieces of legislation.

Earlier this month, NSBA sent a letter to Members on the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) encouraging them to incorporate the small-business contracting reform provisions included in the House-passed FY 13 NDAA (H.R. 4310) into the final bill. These provisions include language addressing everything from contract bundling and government-wide small-business contracting goals to increased transparency and an enhanced role for small-business advocates in the federal acquisition and procurement process.

In addition to the referenced provisions, NSBA also urged Members to include two important bipartisan bills: the Small Business Contracting Fraud Prevention Act (S. 633) and the Fairness in Women-Owned Small Business Contracting Act (S. 2172). These bills include language to help eliminate instances of fraud and abuse, and to remove the arbitrary limit on sole source contracts to women-owned small businesses, a crucial component of our federal contracting base.

The NDAA is expected to be on the Senate floor later this week, and NSBA is urging all small-business owners to take a moment TODAY and urge your Senators to support the inclusion of these small business contracting provisions and measures in the final FY 13 NDAA.

Small Business Lending Bill
Small businesses continue to struggle to find affordable and adequate financing. According to NSBA’s 2012 Small Business Access to Capital Survey, nearly half (43 percent) of all respondents said that, in the last four years, they needed funding but were unable to find anyone to lend to them. Of those struggling to secure financing, 53 percent said that a failure to do so would directly affect the growth of their business, 32 percent said that they would have to reduce their workforce, and 20 percent said that they would have to cut employee benefits.

This is why NSBA supports the pro-growth, pro-jobs Small Business Lending Enhancement Act (S. 2231), and is encouraging all Senators to do the same. If enacted, this bill would increase the arbitrary cap for credit union member business lending from the current 12.25 percent to 27.5 percent of the total assets of the credit union, making it easier for small-business owners to obtain the financing they need. This bill is expected to inject billions of dollars in new capital into the economy and create and estimated 140,000 jobs in the first year alone, all at no cost to the American taxpayer.

Please take a moment TODAY and send a letter to your Senators encouraging them to support S. 2231 and small-business access to capital.

STEM Jobs Act
The STEM Jobs Act was introduced by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) on Sept. 18, 2012, and would (by eliminating the diversity visa program) create 55,000 permanent visas for foreign-born students graduating from an American university with an advanced degree in a science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) field. The STEM Jobs Act is expected to be on the House floor later this week, and NSBA is encouraging Members to vote in favor of the measure. The bill was initially brought up for a vote under suspension of the rules on September 20, 2012, but failed to receive the two-thirds majority required.

Note:  Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) have also introduced separate STEM visa bills: the Attracting the Best and Brightest Act of 2012 (H.R. 6412) and the Benefits to Research and American Innovation through Nationality Statutes Act of 2012 (S. 3553). These bills would, without eliminating the diversity visa program, provide up to 50,000 and 55,000 STEM visas (respectively) and require that wages paid to STEM graduates are comparable to wages paid to U.S. employees. Neither of these bills is expected to be on the floors of their respective chambers this week. Nevertheless, NSBA supports all three bills (as well as the Startup Act 2.0) as they would help small businesses across the country attract and retain the workers they need to expand their businesses, create jobs, and maintain sustainable economic growth.

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