The Committee on Small Business Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce and the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee on Research and Technology will meet for a joint hearing titled, “Improving the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer Programs.” The hearing will take place at 9:00 A.M. on Thursday, May 4, 2017 in Room 2318 of the Rayburn House Office Building.
The Committee on Small Business and the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology are interested in collaborating on legislation making minor adjustments and improvements to the programs in 2017. The objectives of these initiatives include expansion of commercialization of federally-funded small business research and development, stimulation of technological innovation in the small business sector, and increased use of this community to meet the government’s diverse research and development needs. Government and private sector witnesses will discuss the programs and suggest potential improvements to help stimulate commercialization rates, modify reporting requirements that improve data collection, and ensure agencies are utilizing all of the tools available to help transition SBIR and STTR technology into larger contracts.Hearing Documents
1. Hearing Memo
2. Hearing Notice
3. Witness List
Mr. Joe Shepard
Associate Administrator, Office of Investment and Innovation
United States Small Business Administration
Mr. John Neumann
Director, Natural Resources and Environment
United States Government Accountability Office
Mr. John Clanton
Chief Executive Officer
College Station, Texas
John S. Langford, Ph.D.
Chairman and CEO
Aurora Flight Sciences Corporation
Mr. Ron Shroder
Frontier Technologies Inc.
Ms. Angela M. Albán
President and CEO
Winter Park, FL
Clinton T. Rubin, Ph.D.
SUNY Distinguished Professor and Chair, Department of Biomedical Engineering
Director, Center for Biotechnology
Stony Brook University
The Committee on Small Business will meet for a hearing titled, “Empowering Small Businesses: The Accelerator Model.” The hearing is scheduled to begin at 11:00 A.M. on Wednesday, May 3, 2017 in Room 2360 of the Rayburn House Office Building.
The hearing will examine how business accelerators help entrepreneurs, startups, and small businesses grow and create jobs, while also offering Members of the Committee the opportunity to hear from organizations that are directly involved in offering private sector resources to small businesses.
1. Hearing Notice
2. Witness List
Ms. Starr Marcello
Executive Director, Edward L. Kaplan New Venture Challenge (NVC)
Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation
University of Chicago
Mr. Darrin M. Redus
Sr. Vice President
Minority Business Accelerator
Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber
Ms. Carolyn Rodz
Founder and CEO
Earlier this year, the committee met to examine some of the challenges facing America’s higher education system. Costs are rising at private and public institutions. Far too many individuals are failing to complete their education in a timely manner. Misguided rules are stifling innovation on campuses and creating new burdens on institutions across the country.
At that same hearing we discussed opportunities to help address these challenges — opportunities like empowering students to make informed decisions; simplifying student aid; and promoting innovation, access, and completion.
Today, we continue our work to strengthen higher education by taking a closer look at another one of the key principles guiding our efforts — providing strong accountability for students and taxpayers.
In higher education, one way we ensure accountability is the accreditation process. Accrediting agencies are voluntary private organizations made up of members from accredited colleges and universities. These agencies work with their member institutions to develop standards and criteria to determine what constitutes a high-quality higher education institution. Then, through a non-governmental system of peer review, the agencies decide if an institution meets those standards.
By giving their stamp of approval, accreditation agencies provide students and parents with an assurance that an institution meets certain standards when it comes to delivering a high-quality education. Families rely on accreditors to hold schools accountable for the education they provide and to ensure those schools are producing results for their students.
Congress also relies on accreditors. Accreditation helps determine which schools are permitted to participate in federal student aid programs. These important programs allow students at eligible schools to receive federal funds, and we need to know those hard-earned taxpayer dollars are only going to institutions that are serving students well.
The accreditation process is critical to providing accountability in the higher education system. However, like many aspects of higher education, accreditation is in need of improvement.
It has never been and should never be the federal government’s role to judge the quality of a school’s education programs. Entrusting independent accrediting agencies with that responsibility protects academic freedom and student choice. However, in recent years, accreditors have been forced to focus on compliance rather than promoting academic integrity, undermining the process and its purpose. It’s time for a better approach.
We need to refocus federal accreditation requirements on academic quality and student learning. We need to ensure federal rules are clear and easy to follow. We need to improve — or do away with — regulations that discourage or prevent innovation in higher education. And we need to make sure the administration — whether Democrat or Republican — does not have the power to recklessly second-guess the tough decisions accreditation agencies make.
These are all things Congress can do to improve the accreditation process, but if we are going to see real change, accreditors have a job to do as well.
It’s not enough to refocus federal rules. Accreditors must also embrace a commitment to high-quality and improved outcomes. Students need an honest and accurate assessment when it comes to the quality of education a school provides. An accreditation agency’s stamp of approval means something to those students, or at least it should mean something.
Accreditors also need to be open to innovation and the opportunities it can create in higher education. If we are going to roll back rigid federal requirements, it’s up to accrediting agencies to take the flexibility we are working to provide and do something meaningful with it.
By working together — Congress and accreditors — we can improve the accreditation system, ensuring a balance between flexibility for institutions and accountability for students and taxpayers.
We are here today to gain a better understanding of the challenges facing the accreditation system, as well as how we can tackle those challenges. I look forward to hearing from our witnesses and advancing solutions that will provide greater accountability in higher education and ensure the accreditation process serves the best interests of students, families, and taxpayers.
# # #
Chairman Dave Brat has scheduled a hearing of the Committee on Small Business Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Tax, and Capital Access titled, “Small Business: The Key to Economic Growth.” The hearing is scheduled to begin at 10:00 A.M. on Thursday, April 27, 2017 in Room 2360 of the Rayburn House Office Building.
Mr. Stephen Moore
Project for Economic Growth
The Heritage Foundation
Mr. Andrew Sherman
Seyfarth Shaw LLP
WASHINGTON—The Members of the House Small Business Committee this evening introduced H. Res. 288, celebrating next week as National Small Business Week.
Every President since 1963 has designated National Small Business Week to highlight the unmatched contributions of small businesses the American economy.
H. Res 288 details the impact of small businesses in America:
Whereas there are more than 29,600,000 small businesses in
the United States;
Whereas small businesses represent 99.9 percent of all businesses
with employees in the United States;
Whereas small businesses employ over 47 percent of the employees
in the private sector in the United States;
Whereas small businesses constitute 97.7 percent of firms exporting
Whereas small businesses are responsible for more than 46
percent of private sector output;
Whereas small businesses are responsible for creating 63 percent
of new jobs;
Read full text of H. Res 288 HERE.
National Small Business Week is April 30-May 6, 2017.
WASHINGTON – Ahead of National Small Business Week, a distinguished group of experts toldthe House Small Business Committee Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Tax, and Capital Access that small business innovation can spur economic growth.
“Washington can do more to help America’s businesses with the largest growth potential— small businesses. They represent 48 percent of the workers in the private sector, and make up an overwhelming amount of all businesses,” said Subcommittee Chairman Brat (R-VA).“With next week being National Small Business Week, today’s hearing is a timely opportunity to discuss the connection between small businesses and economic growth.”
“And while small business owners painstakingly finished their tax returns last week, simplifying and lowering tax burdens would be a huge shot in the arm to both small businesses and economic growth. Access to capital is yet another issue small businesses need addressed in order to ensure their success,” Subcommittee Chairman Brat added. “While Congress and the Administration are committed to reviewing regulation that inhibits access to capital, the Subcommittee is also concerned about the fact that venture capital investment is largely concentrated in only a few metropolitan areas.”
The Way Forward
“I believe that the hope of human achievement, and policies that allow for us to produce and grow free of government intervention will break all expert predictions,” said Stephen Moore, Distinguished Fellow for the Project for Economic Growth at The Heritage Foundation. “This is all possible as Congress enacts policies that reduce regulation, lower taxes, and empower small business to expand beyond what we thought possible.” Moore continued, “No other debt-reduction policy –certainly not a tax increase—comes close to having the fiscal effect that sustained prosperity does.”
“If you reduce the tax on working, you’re going to get more work,” Moore said.
“Turning to present day trends, 2017 has seen a widespread but tempered increase in confidence among small business owners regarding the economy and overall trends in business investment,” testified Andrew Sherman, Partner at Seyfarth Shaw LLP. “Business owner optimism has increased in part due to promises of tax reform, regulatory reform, and the strength of the capital markets. We are all aware that small and emerging businesses are the backbone of our country and a significant engine for the creation of new jobs.
“Streamlining agencies’ approval processes at the state and federal level, while still maintaining comprehensive business guidelines, will help businesses open their doors faster and with lower ongoing compliance costs,” added Sherman. “The current trend to better define the true cost of regulation and its impact on smaller companies, as well as pressure on agencies to publish clearer regulations so that small businesses can understand guidelines, rules and regulations without having to involve lawyers, accountants and other business counselors must continue to be the focus of this Committee.”
Cutting Red Tape and Taxes for Small Business
“If you think about what policies would be a good idea, you would have to think about what policies would spur productivity growth. Regulatory reform could be something useful,” said Dr. Robert Barro, a John H. Makin Visiting Scholar with the American Enterprise Institute. “An attractive fiscal package could spur economic growth, and here I would look at things like the proposed cuts in corporate income taxes and income tax rates as being positive.”
“We have very high business tax rates – virtually the highest in the world,” Barro testified.
Senate Commerce Committee Ranking Member Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) issued the following statement on FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s net neutrality proposal:
“Gutting these rules robs Americans of protections that preserve their access to the open and free internet,” said Nelson. “Depriving the FCC of its ongoing, forward-looking oversight of the broadband industry amounts to a dereliction of duty at a time when guaranteeing an open internet is more critical than ever. Chairman Pai should back off from rolling back these essential net neutrality rules.”
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Good morning, and thank you Senator Cruz, for calling this hearing. And I’d like to welcome Senator Markey as our new Space Subcommittee Ranking Member.
I’m looking forward to continuing the bipartisan tradition of advancing the U.S. space enterprise.
I’ve had several very positive conversations with Vice President Pence about the importance of the space program, and I was honored to participate in the president’s signing of our NASA Authorization bill. I also look forward to working with the Vice President on re-establishing the Space Council at the White House. I think that is an opportunity where, Senator Cruz, you and I can work with the administration to improve coordination of commercial, civil, and national security space activities across the government.
If you want to take the temperature of the commercial launch sector in the U.S., look no further than Cape Canaveral, FL. As goes the Cape, so goes the commercial launch business.
A few years ago, I recognized a startling trend. Despite all of the available infrastructure and the amazing workforce at the Cape, commercial launch companies were looking elsewhere to take their business. With the Air Force, NASA, FAA, and other entities all involved in licensing and approving launch activities, there was just too much bureaucracy for them to deal with. So, I convened top leaders from the Air Force, NASA, and the FAA in Chairman Rockefeller’s office. I brought a map of all of the abandoned launch pads at the Cape, and I implored them that it is in the best interest of our nation to work together, with the private sector, to bring these pads back to life.
In 2015, Senator Cruz and I included identical language in both the Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act and the National Defense Authorization Act, both of which were signed by the President on the exact same day, to streamline the licensing and approving process for commercial launches at federal installations. Now, after that legislation, and after several conversations with the top Air Force brass, the heads of NASA and the FAA, and industry we’re really getting somewhere.
The transformation at the Cape couldn’t be more dramatic. Huge commercial rocket and satellite manufacturing facilities are going up, along with a steady increase in jobs. Meanwhile, work continues on NASA’s deep space Orion capsule and the launch infrastructure to launch the SLS monster rocket. The commercial crew companies are building their capsules and rockets at the Cape, preparing for crewed launches in the very near future. And General Monteith, the commander of the 45th Space Wing, is forecasting over 30 launches this year and up to an astounding 48 launches per year in the next couple of years, up from an average of a dozen or so launches per year in the past. Most of that activity will be commercial.
This transformation at the Cape is illustrative of the broader impacts that the space industry has to offer to our country.
And we’re just getting going. Right around the corner, there are exciting new endeavors in space enabled by partnerships with NASA and the entrepreneurs and innovators in the private sector. We’ll hear today about additive manufacturing in space and the amazing potential of that technology. We’ll hear about space habitats, about revolutionary new launch capabilities, and about achieving the dream of vastly expanding the numbers of people traveling to, living, and working in space.
We all know challenges exist but the key to success here is balance; balance between public and private space endeavors, between competition and cooperation, between risk and public safety.
Thank you all for being here, and I look forward to your testimony.
Reopening the American Frontier: Reducing Regulatory Barriers and Expanding American Free Enterprise in Space
This bill is about empowering workers and families. It’s about giving moms and dads more flexibility to meet the demands of work and raising a family. And it’s about taking power out of Washington and putting it into the hands of individuals.
For decades, Congress has tried to provide private-sector workers with the same flexible benefits enjoyed by public-sector workers. And as Chairwoman Foxx mentioned, even former President Bill Clinton supported an effort to allow private-sector workers to choose between paid time off and cash wages as compensation for overtime.
The first proposal was introduced in the 1990s, but it has gone through significant changes since then. Democrats and labor unions raised concerns that private-sector workers needed stronger protections than public-sector workers. Republicans listened, and ample changes have been made over the years to enhance safeguards for workers.
The bill would ensure the decision to receive comp time is completely voluntary. For example, the bill requires a written agreement between each worker and their employer — a provision backed by then-President Clinton. If the employee changes his or her mind, they can switch to receiving cash wages whenever they choose.
Workers have control over when to use their comp time. Employees can use their paid time off as long as reasonable notice is given and the request doesn’t unduly disrupt the workplace. This is the same commonsense standard used in the public sector. It’s the same standard used under the Family and Medical Leave Act. And I imagine it’s the same standard used in each of our congressional offices.
In the past, Democrats expressed concerns that workers would accrue too much comp time. Once again, Republicans listened and set the maximum accrual at 160 hours, which is less than what’s allowed in the public sector. Additionally, employees have the right to cash out their comp time at any time for any reason. If they have any unused hours at the end of the year, they would receive a cash payment.
Democrats have also voiced the need to protect collective-bargaining agreements, which is why this bill requires both the employer and the union to agree on comp time.
Some feared workers would be forced to accept comp time instead of cash wages. But this bill explicitly prohibits intimidation, threats, or coercion in any form. Employers who take advantage of their employees would face the same penalties as they would for other wage violations.
Employers found in violation of the law would be liable for double damages and any attorney fees incurred by the employee. As is the case with any overtime violations, employees also have the right to file a charge through the Department of Labor at no cost. As a labor attorney who has worked with employers on these issues for years, I can say that no sensible employer would take advantage of an employee and risk double damages, exorbitant attorney fees, and a legal battle with the federal government.
This is a very thoughtful proposal that is carefully drafted to protect the rights of workers. It strikes an important balance between putting workers in control and ensuring employers can successfully offer more flexibility to their employees.
To members who are still skeptical, please know this legislation reflects President Clinton’s recommendation to include a sunset provision. Five years from now, Congress would have to pass this legislation again. Before the sunset, Members would receive a report from the Government Accountability Office on the impact of comp time. We will have the opportunity to review the real-world effect of this legislation and make any changes if needed.
All we are trying to do here is give workers a choice. Policies written in the 1930s that are out of step with the needs of the 21st century workforce shouldn’t stand in the way of flexibility for workers and their families. Neither should so-called progressives who have had their concerns answered and addressed.
The substitute amendment I am offering makes technical changes to the underlying bill. I urge all of my colleagues to support the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2017, and I yield back the balance of my time.
# # #
This proposal is about time and flexibility. Across the country, there are many working parents struggling to find enough time to spend with their children; students doing their best to juggle a full-time job and earn a college degree; and employees in need of more time to care for an aging relative or fulfill other personal responsibilities.
There are only so many hours in the day, and rigid 9 to 5 work schedules can make it difficult for many Americans to keep up with their personal and professional lives. Unfortunately, an outdated labor law isn’t helping. Workers today are stuck under federal rules that restrict flexibility in the workplace.
Recognizing a change to the Fair Labor Standards Act was needed, Republicans and Democrats came together more than 30 years ago to amend the law and empower workers with more flexibility. But there’s a catch. The change applied only to workers in the public sector.
Congress gave state and local government employers the option of offering employees entitled to overtime pay the choice between paid time off and cash wages. However, the federal government still prohibits private-sector workers from receiving the same choice.
This double standard isn’t fair. Private-sector workers should have the same freedom and flexibility provided to workers in the public sector.
Unfortunately, our Democrat colleagues and liberal special interests have defended this double standard for years. To the busy parents who want more time to attend their kid’s soccer games; to the students who need a break from work to study for finals; and to the single mom who wants more time and flexibility to spend with a newborn — the message of our colleagues is this: Government knows best.
According to the Society for Human Resource Management, 85 percent of employees say workplace flexibility is important when considering a new job. Yet there are some in Washington who think the government should serve as a barrier to the type of flexible job so many Americans are looking for.
“It may seem odd that Democrats oppose a sensible idea that most workers say they want.” Those aren’t my words. Surprisingly, those are the words from a New York Times editorial published in 1997.
The Democrats’ logic simply doesn’t make sense. Why are so-called progressives clinging to a policy from the 1930s that prohibits private-sector workers from exercising the same choices available to government workers?
The answer is Big Labor. If powerful union bosses believe workers should be denied this choice, so too do Democrats in Congress.
They haven’t always taken such an extreme approach. During his nomination acceptance speech, former President Bill Clinton said we should pass a law that “allows employees to take their overtime pay in money, or in time off, depending on what’s better for their family.” And speaking from the Oval Office as he addressed the nation, President Clinton said comp time legislation would “be good for workers, good for business, good for our economy, and strong in the building of our families.”
But today, my colleagues on the other side of the aisle believe Washington knows what’s best for families. They believe the federal government should have control over people’s time and work schedules. They will not stand up to special interest groups. So in the name of “worker protection,” they’re doing everything they can to deny Americans more opportunities to balance work and family.
Over the years, Republicans have engaged in a good faith effort to address concerns about the proposal. The bill before us today has very strong worker protections — even stronger than those that exist in the public sector. For example, an employee can cash out unused comp time at any time for any reason. This bill puts workers in control over their earned time off, and they can switch back to receiving cash wages for overtime hours whenever they choose.
In no way does this proposal undermine existing protections under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Workers would accrue comp time at the long-standing overtime rate of time-and-a-half.
My colleague Bradley Byrne will explain the worker protections the bill provides in greater detail. But the point is that progressives and the far-left are running out of excuses not to support this commonsense legislation.
I want to thank Representative Martha Roby for championing this proposal. It represents a positive step to improve the quality of life of hardworking Americans. I hope Democrats and Republicans can come together and finally provide workers with the choice, flexibility, and freedom they deserve.
# # #
WASHINGTON – Officials from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) told the House Small Business Committee today that SBA’s disaster relief loan program continues to struggle with long processing times, fraudulent claims, and post-disaster communication with small businesses.
While witnesses praised the RISE After Disaster Act, bipartisan legislation crafted by the Small Business Committee and signed into law in 2015, they noted that SBA still has much work to do to ensure they are prepared when the next disaster strikes.
“The Disaster Loan Program provides direct loans to help businesses of all sizes, homeowners, and renters rebuild following a federally declared or certified disaster,” said House Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH). “But in the wake of past major disasters—such as Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy—SBA has fallen short. Disaster victims have had to wait weeks and months for their loans to be processed. And in already desperate and confusing times, they have been left confused by SBA’s role within the federal government’s complex and duplicative disaster response.”
“Unlike past hearings, we are not in the wake of a major catastrophe. That provides us a unique opportunity to examine the steps SBA is currently taking to prepare for the next one, whenever and wherever it may strike,” Chairman Chabot added. “As Administrator McMahon stated in her confirmation hearing, ‘[d]isasters don’t pick a time, they happen. And we need to be prepared for those disasters.’ This Committee wants to help SBA and Administrator McMahon make sure it is prepared.”
When Disaster Strikes: Getting SBA Relief to Small Businesses In Need
“The Disaster Assistance Program is a vital component to the nation’s response plan for homeowners and business owners in the wake of significant disasters,” testified Hannibal “Mike” Ware, the Acting Inspector General of the SBA. “As such, it is critical that the program is operated in the most effective and efficient manner. Having implemented corrective actions for dozens of OIG recommendations since Hurricane Katrina, it is evident the Office of Disaster Assistance (ODA) is better positioned to provide assistance to disaster victims, though every disaster tests SBA’s ability to deliver anew.”
“Each disaster has unique circumstances and poses unforeseen challenges that SBA personnel must adapt to and overcome to be successful,” added Ware. “The need to disburse loans quickly, and in some instances in large volumes, poses many complications and may create opportunities for dishonest applicants to commit fraud and SBA personnel to make errors in the lending process. Having effective internal controls, robust technology design and resources, and training programs are keys to mitigating risks to the taxpayer.”
Getting the Word Out: SBA Post-Disaster Communication Challenges
“SBA has taken some actions to enhance information resources for business loan applicants but could do more to improve its presentation of online disaster loan-related information,” testified William Shear, the Director of Financial Markets and Community Investment at United States Government Accountability Office (GAO). “In 2016, GAO found that SBA took or planned to take various actions to improve the disaster loan program and focused on promoting disaster preparedness, streamlining the loan process, and enhancing online application capabilities.”
“However, GAO found that SBA had not effectively presented information on disaster loans (in a way that would help users efficiently find it), had not consistently described key features and requirements of the loan process in print and online resources, or clearly defined financial terminology used in loan applications,” observed Shear. “Absent better integration of, and streamlined access to, disaster loan-related information, loan applicants may not be aware of key information and requirements for completing the applications.”
“Our primary focus is to provide low-interest, long-term loans for privately-owned property losses as part of the recovery effort in coordination with other Federal, state, local, Indian Tribal and territorial government partners,” explained James Rivera,Associate Administrator Office of Disaster Assistance (ODA) at SBA. “The SBA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) partner to ensure disaster survivors obtain the maximum amount of assistance for which they are eligible. SBA and FEMA share information to ensure no benefits are duplicated when providing assistance. In events where a Presidential disaster declaration including Individual Assistance is authorized, disaster survivors should first contact FEMA since in order to apply for an SBA loan, they will need to obtain a FEMA Registration ID Number.”
The Committee on Small Business will meet for a hearing titled, “Storm Watch: Making Sure SBA’s Disaster Loan Program is Prepared.” The hearing is scheduled to begin at 11:00 A.M. on Wednesday, April 26, 2017 in Room 2360 of the Rayburn House Office Building.
1. Hearing Notice
2. Witness List
Mr. James Rivera
Office of Disaster Assistance
United States Small Business Administration
Mr. Hannibal “Mike” Ware
Acting Inspector General
United States Small Business Administration
Mr. William Shear
Financial Markets and Community Investment
United States Government Accountability Office