WASHINGTON –House Small Business Committee leaders followed up today after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) failed to respond to their bipartisan concerns about the impact of new proposed broadband regulations on America’s small businesses.
The Committee wrote to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler in August requesting answers about the negative economic impact of new FCC privacy proposals on small Broadband Internet Access Service (BIAS) providers.
As noted in the letter, the FCC has failed to fully or adequately comply with the Regulatory Flexibility Act. This lack of compliance has left many small businesses confused and frustrated as they try to understand how the FCC’s proposed regulations will affect their businesses.
The Committee requested a response from Wheeler and the FCC no later than September 8, 2016 and as of October 3, 2016, they have received no such reply.
You can view the original letter HERE.
You can view today’s follow-up letter HERE.
WASHINGTON – Members of the House Small Business Committee have joined together to lead the introduction of a bipartisan House resolution to recognize the Saturday after Thanksgiving, November 26th, as “Small Business Saturday.”
“America’s small businesses, entrepreneurs, and innovators need to be assured that we are fighting on their behalf, and that they have a voice in Washington.” Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) said. “Support for America’s small businesses reaches beyond partisan lines and consistently reaches across the aisle. I thank Ranking Member Velázquez for her support for this bipartisan resolution to inspire all Americans to ‘shop small’ on November 26th."
“Entrepreneurship is a cornerstone of the American economy and it is critical we work together to help our small businesses succeed," Small Business Committee Ranking Member Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) said. "I am proud to work with Chairman Chabot in introducing this legislation that recognizes Small Business Saturday and encourages Americans to shop at the Main Street businesses that make this nation great.”
The resolution, H. Res. 886, notes that there are over 28 million small businesses in the United States which:
- Represent 99.7 percent of all businesses with employees
- Employ over 48 percent of private sector employees
- Pay over 42 percent of the total private sector payroll
- Constitute 98 percent of firms exporting goods
- Created 63 percent of net new jobs over the past two decades
Kline Statement: Debate on H.R. 6094, the Regulatory Relief for Small Businesses, Schools, and Nonprofits Act
Unfortunately, the department took a different approach and finalized an extreme rule that will hurt those it’s supposed to help. As we have heard from witnesses at hearings and constituents back home, the rule will leave individuals with less flexibility at work and fewer opportunities to further their careers or pursue jobs they want or truly need. We have also learned that the rule will make college less affordable and make it more difficult for charitable organizations to serve people in need.
The purpose of the legislation we are considering today is to provide some relief—even if temporary—to those who will be harmed the most: men and women working hard to grow their own businesses and employees trying to provide a better life for their families; students pursuing the dream of a higher education; and countless Americans relying on nonprofits for help and support.
It took the Obama administration more than two years—or 27 months—to complete this rule, but they’ve given the American people just six months to make the difficult choices necessary to implement it. According to one report, 49 percent of small businesses aren’t even aware the new rule exists. Imagine how many schools and nonprofits are in the same position.
This legislation will give these men and women more time to implement the rule and help mitigate its impact on students, workers, and vulnerable individuals. But the clock is ticking. Important decisions about payroll and staffing have to be made and quickly. If we fail to act now, it may be too late.
I want to thank Representative Walberg for introducing this important legislation and for his continued leadership in championing efforts to responsibly update federal overtime rules.
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Walberg Statement: Debate on H.R. 6094, the Regulatory Relief for Small Businesses, Schools, and Nonprofits Act
It’s unfortunate this legislation is necessary in the first place. For over two years, Republicans have urged the department to update our nation’s overtime rules responsibly. These rules serve as important protections for America’s workers, but the existing regulatory structure is extremely outdated and complex.
The department should have used this opportunity to modernize overtime rules for the 21st century workforce. They should have listened to the countless small businesses owners, heads of nonprofit organizations, state and local leaders, and college and university administrators who warned that an extreme and partisan rule would lead to harmful consequences.
But the department failed to take a balanced approach, and refused to listen. Instead, they stuck by a Washington-knows-best mentality and finalized a rule that was exactly what so many hardworking men and women had feared. The rule doubles the salary threshold for overtime eligibility and requires further automatic increases every three years. And then to make matters worse, the department even kept in place the same-old regulatory maze that has existed for decades.
As the administration pats itself on the back and rushes to implement a rule in just a few short months, those who will face the real-world consequences are scrambling to meet the unrealistic December 1st deadline.
Ernie MacEwen, a South Rockwood small business owner in my district, said he already opted to hire one less employee this year in anticipation of the rule. He said he has heard from other small business owners who don’t even know the rule exists. Karen Richard, who owns Culver’s Restaurants in Ann Arbor and Jackson, is worried the rule will limit opportunities for the young people she employs.
Adrian College is trying to make tough decisions that could impact tuition and services for students, and the time crunch is making the process even more challenging. Bethany Christian Services in Grand Rapids is concerned the rule will undermine support for children in need.
These stories aren’t unique to Michigan. These are the types of stories that are unfolding across the country. And yet, the administration continues to quickly move toward the December 1st implementation date in total disregard for the challenges facing the small businesses, schools, and nonprofit organizations serving our communities.
The administration should abandon this rule before it limits opportunities for workers; hurts young people striving for an affordable education; burdens hardworking small business owners; and jeopardizes vital services for vulnerable Americans. It’s time to go back to the drawing board and work toward the balanced, responsible approach we’ve been fighting for from the start.
Time is running out. The administration and Members of Congress should do the right thing and provide more time to those struggling to implement this rule before an arbitrary and unrealistic deadline. I urge my colleagues to support this commonsense legislation, and to help deliver the relief small businesses, schools, and nonprofits in each and every one of our districts so desperately need.
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Divergent Philosophies on Merger Enforcement Emerge from Senior DOJ, FTC Antitrust Officials’ Speeches
WASHINGTON - House Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) hailed House passage of a bipartisan measure to delay the Obama administration’s new overtime rule for six months. This additional time will enable small businesses and other small employers to plan for and fight back against these costly, burdensome new rules. H.R. 6094, the Regulatory Relief for Small Businesses, Schools, and Nonprofits Act, passed the House by a vote of 246 to 177 and now moves to the U.S. Senate for consideration.
“Over the past year, the Committee on Small Business has heard from countless small businesses that shared their concerns about the overtime rule,” said Chairman Chabot (R-OH). “Small businesses give their employees flexible schedules, pay increases when they can afford it, and career advancement opportunities because employees are key to their success. This rule will limit the ability of small businesses to provide these benefits, which will have a devastating impact on employee morale. Our Committee Members, and other officials including the Chief Counsel for Advocacy at the Small Business Administration, joined small businesses in urging the Department of Labor to change course.”
- Chairman Chabot discussed the damage that will be done to America’s 28 million small businesses and efforts to delay the overtime rule on MSNBC this weekend on “Your Business.”
- Chabot and Committee Republicans have vigorously opposed the DOL overtime rule throughout the 114th Congress.
- The Committee has held numerous hearings and roundtables and sent multiple letters explaining to the administration the damage that will be done to small businesses and other small employers as a result of the rule.
- Today’s legislation passed as House Republicans are offering a policy agenda to reduce the regulatory burden on small businesses as part of A Better Way to Grow our Economy.
WASHINGTON, D.C. —U.S. Sens. Steve Daines (R-MT) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) today introduced legislation to protect consumers from online booking scams.
Daines and Nelson introduced The Stop Online Booking Scams Act that protects consumers from illegitimate third party websites that trick consumers into thinking they are making reservations directly with hotels.
Online booking sites have created a marketplace where consumers can shop for hotels across thousands of brands on a single platform. With the rise of online booking (480 bookings per minute) has come an increase in online booking scams. Fraudulent websites give the appearance of being connected to a hotel, but actually have no relationship with them. Transactions on these sites can result in additional hidden fees, loss of expected loyalty points, or even confirmation of reservations that were never made. The Stop Online Booking Scams Act addresses this problem.
“Tourism is an important part of Montana’s economy and we need to make sure that folks are getting what was promised to them,” Daines stated. “Legitimate online booking sites provide consumers with a valuable tool for comparison shopping, but deceptive websites trick consumers and scam them into paying for reservations that don’t exist.”
“This bill intends to crackdown on crooks and fraudsters who trick consumers into booking hotel rooms that don’t exist,” said Nelson, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee. “Millions of consumers use the Internet to easily compare prices and find great deals on hotel rooms. We can’t have a few bad actors ruin this for everyone else.”
Similar legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this year by Rep. Lois Frankel (D-Fla.).
The Stop Online Booking Scams Act:
Recognizes the Consumer Benefits of Legitimate Booking Sites:
- Includes a sense of Congress that recognizes the robust online marketplace that allows consumers to easily compare brands and make reservations
- Notes that actions by third party sellers that misappropriate brand identity or use deceptive sales tactics are harmful to consumers
Narrowly Targets Illegitimate Third Party Reservation Sellers:
- Makes it unlawful for a third party online hotel reservation seller who is not affiliated with the hotel to accept payment for a reservation unless the seller discloses that they are not affiliated with the hotel
- A third party seller may achieve this by:
- Including conspicuous language throughout the transaction
- Including prominent display of the seller’s brand identity
Gives Enforcement Authority to the Federal Trade Commission and State Attorney Generals:
- Makes a failure to comply with the third party disclosure requirements an unfair or deceptive act under the Federal Trade Commission Act
- Gives state AGs the authority to bring a civil action against companies who violate this provision
"Good morning, and welcome to today’s hearing on oversight of the Federal Trade Commission.
"This morning, we will hear directly from the FTC’s three sitting commissioners: Chairman Ramirez, Commissioner Ohlhausen, and Commissioner McSweeny. Let me take this opportunity to welcome you to the Committee and thank you for your service.
"I first want to note that Chairman Moran was scheduled to convene a Subcommittee hearing this afternoon. That hearing was to include a panel of thought leaders who would offer their own perspectives from outside the Commission. Due to scheduling conflicts that have arisen, we will unfortunately have to reschedule that hearing until a later date. We appreciate the willingness of those witnesses to testify and thank them for their understanding.
"The FTC was founded in 1914 by Congress – specifically by this Committee. In fact, the FTC is the oldest independent federal agency under the jurisdiction of this Committee. At the beginning of this Congress, the agency celebrated its 100th anniversary, an event that prompted retrospection both from the Commission and its observers.
"As many in the room know, the agency was born of the concern that more needed to be done to ensure competitive markets in the United States and to “bust the trusts” that threatened that competition. The Commission’s focus soon expanded to include an enforcement mandate against unfair and deceptive acts and practices that threatened consumer welfare.
"A common theme uniting the Commission’s dual focus on competition and consumer protection is ensuring freedom in the marketplace. Throughout the decades, and on the balance, the FTC has been a strong cop on the beat, ensuring that Americans reap the benefits of a functioning economy free from domination by firms with unfairly concentrated market power. It has also made it possible for Americans to be confident in their commercial transactions and grow the economy with the knowledge that they are protected from fraudsters and cheats seeking to do them harm.
"Among its many programs, the FTC administers the national Do-Not-Call program, which was created in 2003 and was once rated as the second-most popular federal initiative in American history, second only to the Elvis stamp. By 2010, the registry had topped 200 million numbers.
"But the agency has not been without controversy. In the late 1970s, for example, the agency drew criticism from none other than the Washington Post editorial board for its consideration of a regulation that would impose major restrictions on television advertisements aimed at young children in order to reduce the amount of sugar children eat. This regulatory overreach led the Post to criticize the Commission as the “great national nanny” and led Congress to adopt heightened procedural safeguards on the Commission’s authority to promulgate rulemakings. It was a recognition that the proper role of government must be limited.
"Despite these measures, the Commission has at times asserted itself in ways that continue to raise concerns about overreach. This Committee has pressed the Commission, for instance, on the scope of its Section 5 authority, which prohibits unfair and deceptive acts in commerce.
"When Congress drafted the FTC Act, we took care to ensure the prohibitions of Section 5 would be evergreen. And this flexibility is one of the statute’s key features. For example, in the 1930s, in one of its first cases to use this “unfair and deceptive” language, the Commission brought a paint misbranding case against a manufacturer who allegedly sold a product branded as high-quality white lead paint when the paint, in fact, contained no white lead.
"But Section 5’s flexibility does not mean it is open-ended. To best serve customers, the business community needs certainty, guidance, and predictability in order to comply with the law. American merchants are also entitled to fairness and due process when it comes to enforcement. When the FTC deviates from longstanding practice, it creates uncertainty about what the Commission’s interpretation of the law may be, who is liable, and the extent of that liability.
"We have heard concerns, for instance, about the Commission’s application of its unfairness authority to bring cases against private companies for lax data security practices. We all agree that consumers should be protected against unreasonable data security practices that put them at risk of identity theft and financial harm. But for some time now, a key element in any unfairness case has been whether or not a practice causes substantial – that is, monetary but not subjective – injury to consumers. In one recent high-profile case, the FTC sought to enforce against a small business on grounds that it failed to implement reasonable security measures to protect the sensitive consumer information on its computer network. The FTC took the extraordinary step of overturning the decision of its own administrative law judge, who found, on the basis of the evidence in the case, no monetary harm to the affected consumers. We will continue to monitor developments in that case.
"Another area of focus for this Committee has been regulations impacting technology innovation. One of the first hearings we held this Congress was on the Internet of Things. In that hearing, we examined the significant economic and societal impact the connected world might bring. At the time, I expressed my hope that we, the government, would have the humility to recognize that the best solutions are often not government solutions, and that we not stifle the Internet of Things before we, and consumers, have had a chance to gain an understanding of its real promise and implications.
"The Commission has also focused on the Internet of things, both with enforcement activity and guidance to industry. The Commission issued its Internet of Things report last year, which summarized a workshop the FTC held on the topic. The report provided policy recommendations that some, including Commissioner Ohlhausen, have criticized for its “government-knows-best” approach that could inhibit innovation and growth. While I appreciate the Commission’s willingness to explore new topics, I would caution the Commission to exercise regulatory humility, preserve “permission-less innovation,” and continue to address actual consumer harms as they arise.
"With that, I will close by thanking the Commissioners for being here today, and turn to Senator Blumenthal for any opening remarks he might have."
1. Hearing Notice
2. Witness List