Members of Congress Address NSBA Delegation

June 25, 2014

pic-uscapitol-flagThe final event for the collective group during the Washington Presentation was the Congressional Breakfast. Held in the morning of Tuesday June 24 in the Capitol Visitor’s Center, six distinguished members of Congress attended.

The first Representative to speak was Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who sits on the House Judiciary Committee. Congressman Chaffetz spoke about the internet sales tax and how complex the issue is with retailers on both sides of the debate. He underscored the confusing nature of online sales tax given the various patchwork of city and state sales taxes and the burden it poses for many small businesses that sell online as well as in-person. Chaffetz made the case for equal and fair tax treatment of purchases regardless of how they are purchased, but warned that the issue of complexity must be addressed.

Next to address the group was Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) who serves as the Chair of the House Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, where he recently held a hearing on oversight of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Walberg pointed out the need for Congress to address regulatory burdens and tax extenders for small firms and cited House passage of legislation to make permanent Section 179 expensing. He closed by noting that similar common sense legislation should be passed to help create jobs and grow the economy.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) who serves as the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Finance, which oversees tax policy in the Senate, spoke next to the NSBA delegation. He expressed in his remarks his understanding that small businesses are the backbone of the economy and that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, among other things, has placed a burden on small business. Referring to the current state of Congress, he indicated while Members of the House have passed numerous bills they have died upon arrival to the Senate.

Up next was Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) who serves a as a member of the House Judiciary Committee and was a former member of the House Committee on Small Business. Cicilline called for tax reform for a simpler and fairer tax code, and also highlighted the issues with the existing online sales tax system. Cicilline also cited the growing issue small employers face with finding trained workers to fill jobs, and called for better workforce training. He underscored the need to protect intellectual property and called on his cohorts in Congress to better compromise and collaborate on the important issues.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D – Ore.), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, spoke candidly to the NSBA delegation about the future of tax reform under his leadership. He highlighted the fact that he will only pass one tax extender bill and plans to move on broad tax reform rather than continually pass one- or two-year extensions of various tax provisions. Wyden stated unequivocally that he supports only broad tax reform—not simply a corporate tax reform which wouldn’t help the overwhelming majority of small firms who file as pass-throughs. He expressed support for a more fair, less complex tax system that would encourage investment and entrepreneurship, and help America’s small businesses.

Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-Mass.) closed out the breakfast talking about the importance of innovation and the federal programs that can encourage such innovation, including the Small Business Innovation and Research (SBIR) program. Tsongas serves on the House Armed Services Committee and has been an outspoken champion to preserve the SBIR program as the successful small-business program it has become. She discussed the important role small firms can play in the federal marketplace and underscored her support for ensuring small businesses have a seat at the table within these programs.

Following the breakfast, NSBA members set out on their Hill visits to talk with their elected officials about key small-business issues.