SBIR Reauthorization Update

December 7, 2011

Last week the U.S. Senate voted to include compromise language to reauthorize the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program and the Small Business Technology Transfer (SBTT) programs as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (S. 1867). The full bill was approved by the Senate 93:7 and now must be conferenced with the House-passed version.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Ranking Member John McCain (R-Ariz.) were scheduled to sit down yesterday afternoon with House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) and Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-Wash.) to begin ironing out differences between the two bills. The Senate-passed language on SBIR was not included in the House version of the bill. With December recess coming potentially as early as next week, the clock is ticking.

Adding to the significant challenges in crafting acceptable compromise legislation is highly controversial language over military detention for certain terrorism suspects. President Barack Obama has vowed to veto the bill unless such language is changed or removed altogether.

The SBIR/STTR language in the Senate bill would reauthorize the programs for eight years and is nearly identical to the Senate-crafted compromise language, 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.

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.

This ongoing failure of the House to come to the table and hash out a compromise has resulted in 2008 being the last time Congress passed any kind of formal reauthorization, and the program now operating under its 14th temporary extension.

The next hours and days are critical to the program. NSBA, along with SBTC is urging all small-business owners to contact their lawmakers and urge them to support a long-term authorization of the SBIR/STTR programs. This is perhaps the closest a long-term authorization for the programs has come in several years—your efforts toward getting the House to accept the Senate compromise are urgently needed.

Please click here to contact your Representative today!