SBIR Reauthorization Moves Ahead

November 30, 2011

Last night, the U.S. Senate approved by voice vote an amendment (S.A. 1115) to the National Defense Authorization Act (S. 1867) that would incorporate the Senate’s compromise language to reauthorize the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs for eight years. Assuming the bill passes the Senate, it will then go to the House for consideration.

The National Defense Authorization Act is scheduled for more debate today and a vote on a motion for cloture which will then set the path forward—assuming it gets the needed 60 votes—for a full vote. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said he expects passage on the overall bill by Friday. The challenge is that there are a number of very controversial amendments that could sink the entire bill.

The language approved under S.A. 1115 is the same language in S. 493, the carefully-crafted compromise language that all major stakeholders have agreed to, including NSBA, the Small Business Technology Council (SBTC), the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) and National Venture Capital Association. NSBA applauds Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) for offering the amendment and cosponsors Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Scott Brown (R-Mass.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Christopher Coons (D-Del.), Carl Levin (D- Mich.) and Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.) for their tireless efforts to ensure the continued and long-term success of the SBIR program.

The impasse over how to best reauthorize the SBIR program has bogged down the program and added a certain level of instability over the past several years. Despite broad support of the Senate compromise, the House Committee on Small Business has shown little inclination to move forward on it. This is despite growing House support for the Senate compromise language and a long-term reauthorization spurred by a Dear Colleague letterfrom Reps. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Niki Tsongas (D-Mass.) and Peter Welch (D-Conn.).

Now that the amendment is attached to the National Defense Authorization Act, if passed and sent to the House, it will be under the purview of the House Armed Services Committee, chaired by Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-Calif.). Rep. McKeon has expressed support for a long-term SBIR reauthorization and has formally raised concerns with sections of the SBIR reauthorization bill (H.R. 1425) supported by House Small Business Committee Chair Sam Graves (R-Mo.) and Ranking Member Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.).

Please click here to urge your Representative to support the Senate compromise.