Small Business Congress Wrap-Up & Priority Voting

November 21, 2018

On Nov. 14-15, 2018, NSBA held its Small Business Congress in Washington, D.C. where small-business leaders from across the country discussed topics ranging from health care costs and workforce preparedness to addressing the U.S. debt and online data security. The two-day conference was packed full with policy discussions and culminated in attendees voting on what will be NSBA’s Top Priority Issues for the coming two years.

Kicking off the event was a panel discussion, “The Federal Debt & Small Business: How Much Should We Care?” moderated by Heather Long, economics correspondent for The Washington Post. The panel featured economics experts Diane Lim, principal at District Economics Group; Alex Brill, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute; and Marc Goldwein, senior vice president and senior policy director for the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. Throughout the talk, the panelists outlined the massive deficit and growing U.S. debt, what could possibly be done and the timeline in which lawmakers need to act.

Attendees then participated in the keynote luncheon and annual meeting for NSBA during which the formal passing of the gavel took place from 2018 chair Cynthia Kay of Cynthia Kay and Co. to 2019 incoming Chair Sharon Toerek of Toerek Law. The luncheon featured economist Chad Moutray of the National Association of Manufacturers who discussed the state of the U.S. economy and what he predicts for the coming two years.

Following the luncheon, attendees heard from outstanding subject-matter experts on topics of importance to NSBA’s membership, starting with Joseph Bishop-Henchman, executive vice president at the Tax Foundation, whose research has been cited by countless media outlets and even the U.S. Supreme Court. Bishop-Henchman delved into the recent U.S. Supreme Court case, South Dakota v. Wayfair, in which the court ruled that states have the right to assess sales taxes on out-of-state sellers meaning significant changes—and new burdens—could await small businesses in coming months. Next, he discussed Tax Reform 2.0 and the likelihood that Congress will take up NSBA-supported reforms to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed in December 2017.


After the tax discussion, attendees heard from David M. Drucker, senior political correspondent for the Washington Examiner and political analyst for CNN. Drucker has reported on Capitol Hill for many years and is a recognized expert on elections. During his session, “The Elections, Small Business and What’s Next,” Drucker talked politics, partisanship, the midterm elections and what to expect in 2020 with NSBA Vice Chair for Communications ML Mackey of Beacon Interactive Systems. He left attendees with two main take-aways: 1) if you want to make a difference, show up; and 2) politicians have intent to do good – work with them and help them understand your needs.

The final session on Wednesday afternoon was led by Small Business Congress Co-Chairs Jeff Koenig and Sheila Duffy-Lehrman who discussed the regional listening sessions in Miami, Kansas City and Cleveland. They outlined the importance of meeting locally with small-business leaders and how some regional priorities actually have broader implications for small businesses throughout the country.

On Thursday morning, the delegation gathered early to hear from key House and Senate Small Business Committee staffers: Sean Moore, democratic staff director for the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship; Rob Yavor, senior professional staff member for Chairman Steve Chabot on the House Committee on Small Business; and Halimah Najieb-Locke, senior professional staff member for the Democratic Staff of the House Committee on Small Business. Throughout their discussion, the staffers underscored their committees’ long history of working in a bipartisan, bicameral fashion.  They gave updates on the status of small-business issues in the 115th Congress and outlined what they expect will be addressed in the 116th Congress starting January 2019.

Next, attendees heard from Todd McCracken, NSBA president and CEO, Toerek and Marc Amato of WALCO, NSBA’s current Vice Chair for Advocacy on NSBA’s current priority issues, the issue committee structure and how the organization decides its priority issues. McCracken led the discussion with insight and analysis from Toerek and Amato on each specific issue and the delegation voted on a number of issue areas, culminating in an overall vote on what would be the organization’s Top 10 Priorities for the coming two years.

Closing out the event, attendees headed to the Capitol for a luncheon to discuss the small business agenda and heard from various small-business leaders who are part of the Small Business Roundtable. Attendees also heard from Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship Ranking Member Ben Cardin (D-Md.), and House Committee on Small Business Chairman Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) and Ranking Member Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.). All three leaders of the Small Business Committees underscored their bipartisan, bicameral spirit and said they look forward to championing small business on Capitol Hill in the coming year.

The Small Business Congress is NSBA’s biennial event held at the start of each new session of Congress, and is designed to give members a voice in determining the organization’s top priority issues. The next NSBA event will be the Washington Presentation held in June where attendees lobby their elected officials and attend a White House briefing – stay tuned to for details.