Despite Long To-Do List, August Recess Begins

August 5, 2015

pic-capitol-roadThe Senate is set to adjourn at the end of this week for their annual August recess where lawmakers will return to their home states. The House adjourned for their five-week recess the last week of July, prior to the Senate’s planned adjournment. Unfortunately, as has become more the norm than the exception, little has gotten done, specifically, reauthorization for Ex-Im Bank, a host of spending and budget bills, a long-term highway funding bill, the likelihood of hitting the debt ceiling yet again, and efforts to address corporate taxes.

Looming even larger than these issues are the spending bills that must get passed by Sept. 30, which will in all likelihood be an omnibus extension of current funding levels given lawmakers failure to move forward on stand-alone spending bills for several years. The spending vehicle has been targeted by some conservative members who have threatened to oppose any measure that funds Planned Parenthood thereby causing another government shutdown. Something many Republicans higher-ups are loathe to see happen under their leadership.

While lawmakers are back in their home states, it’s important they hear from their small-business constituents on the issues that matter most. NSBA has complied background and action links for a handful of issues on which you can weigh-in with your elected officials during the recess. Additionally, you can access NSBA’s Congressional Directory and get your Senators’ and Representative’s local contact information.

Below, please find details on the key small-business issues which are likely to be on Congress’ radar this fall:

Export-Import Bank – currently operating under an expired charter which has prevented the bank from taking on any new deals as of June 30, far-right conservatives have targeted Ex-Im for elimination on ideological complaints that it represents corporate welfare. In reality, since 2009, Ex-Im’s small-business authorizations have accounted for at least 85 percent of the Bank’s total authorizations. Compounded by the fact that Ex-Im Bank has, over the last two decades, generated a surplus of more than $7 billion for U.S. taxpayers, the opposition to the Bank has left many small businesses in a terrible position, unable like their larger counterparts such as Boeing, unable to move operations overseas to get the kind of support Ex-Im has always provided.

Take Action: Contact your lawmakers today and urge them to support Ex-Im Bank reauthorization.

Patent Reform – Although both the House and Senate Judiciary Committees have passed their respective and NSBA-opposed bills, the Innovation Act (H.R. 9) and PATENT Act (S. 1137), neither bill has yet been voted on by either chamber in full. Fortunately, opposition has become more vocal, leading to Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) pulling the bill from the July vote schedule, saying it needs more work. No clear timeline has been identified for Congress to revisit the patent issue, but the bill’s proponents continue to push the issue. Unfortunately, both H.R. 9 and S. 1137 would greatly weaken the ability of patent holders to legitimately protect their intellectual property and raise capital. Two other pieces of legislation have been introduced which would address the patent-troll issue but not harm individual inventors: the STRONG Patents Act (S. 632). and the TROL Act (H.R. 2045) would improve the current patenting system by addressing patent trolls and avoid many of the burdens associated with S. 1137 and H.R. 9.

Take Action: Contact your lawmakers and urge them to oppose S. 1137 and H.R. 9, and instead support S. 632 and H.R. 2045.

Corporate Tax Reform – With so many controversial and must-do pieces of legislation awaiting action by congress, it is unlikely that any kind of broad tax reform will move this fall. However, many are looking a tinkering with pieces of the tax code, specifically corporate-only tax reform. While a positive for those small businesses that are structured as a c-corp, corporate tax reform will do nothing to help the 83 percent of small firms what are pass-through entities. In fact, it could result in a higher effective tax rate for small business as many of the deductions they rely on could be eliminated to pay for lower corporate tax rates. It is important that lawmakers understand why corporate-only tax reform will hurt small business before any of these detrimental tax changes move forward.

Take Action: Contact your lawmakers and urge them to support a broad reform of the tax system – not only corporate tax reform.