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Nomination Hearing

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Protecting Small Businesses from Cyber Attacks: the Cybersecurity Insurance Option

House Small Business Committee News - Wed, 07/26/2017 - 11:00am

The Committee on Small Business will meet for a hearing titled, “Protecting Small Businesses from Cyber Attacks: the Cybersecurity Insurance Option.” The hearing is scheduled to begin at 11:00 A.M. on Wednesday, July 26, 2017 in Room 2360 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

Attachments

1. Hearing Notice
2. Witness List

Witnesses 

Mr. Robert Luft
President
SureFire Innovations
Cincinnati, Ohio

Ms. Erica Davis
Senior Vice President, Head of Specialty Products Errors & Omissions
Zurich Insurance, North America
Washington, DC
*Testifying on behalf of the American Insurance Association

Mr. Eric Cernak
Vice President, Cyber Risk Practice Leader
Munich Re U.S.
Hartford, CT
*Testifying on behalf of the Reinsurance Association America (RAA)

Mr. Daimon Geopfert
National Leader and Principal, Security and Privacy Consulting
Risk Advisory Services
Southfield, MI 



Philadelphia’s Wage-History Ordinance Faces First Amendment Challenge

WLF Legal Pulse - Fri, 07/21/2017 - 9:55am
Guest Commentary By Stephanie J. Peet, a Partner in the Philadelphia, PA office of Jackson Lewis P.C. She writes for the firm’s Pay Equity Advisory Blog. The number of jurisdictions considering and enacting legislation that bars employer inquiries about and reliance on job applicants’ salary or wage history has been growing. A legal challenge to […]
Categories: Latest News

Nelson Urges Administration to Act on Fee Refunds for Delayed Bags

WASHINGTON, DC - More than a year after Congress passed a law requiring airlines to issue prompt fee refunds for delayed bags, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) wants to know why it’s taking so long for the administration to act.

In a letter sent today to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Nelson called on her to immediately issue rules needed to carry out the law.

“As we enter the heart of the summer travel season, each further day of delay causes substantial consumer harm,” Nelson wrote.  “I urge you to act now to give the flying public the protections they were promised in last year’s FAA extension.”

The FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act, which passed Congress and was signed into law in July 2016, gave the Department of Transportation (DOT) one year to develop rules requiring fee refunds for delayed luggage and mandated a review of airline family seating policies.   Specifically, the law required DOT to adopt rules requiring the airlines to issue prompt baggage fee refunds when checked luggage is not delivered within 12 hours after the arrival of a domestic flight or 15 hours after the arrival of an international flight.  Additionally, it mandated that DOT review current airline policies on family seating and, if appropriate, require them to seat families with children under the age of 13 together. 

According to DOT statistics cited by Nelson, the top 13 U.S. airlines collected at least $4.2 billion last year in baggage fees – resulting in passengers being charged as much as $11.4 million per day in bag fees.  

Below is the text of Nelson’s letter to Secretary Chao.  

 

July 20, 2017

 

The Honorable Elaine C. Chao

Secretary

U.S. Department of Transportation

1200 New Jersey Ave., SW

Washington, DC 20590

 

Dear Secretary Chao:

            I write today regarding the status of regulations that were due by July 16, 2017, implementing two critical aviation consumer protections contained in last year’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) extension.

            As you know, the FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016 passed Congress last year with broad bipartisan support.  In addition to extending the FAA’s operating authority for one year, the bill also contained two provisions designed to help commercial air travelers.  The first provision (Section 2305) generally required automated refunds for any baggage fees when checked luggage is not delivered within 12 hours after the arrival of a domestic flight or 15 hours after the arrival of an international flight.  The second provision (section 2309) directed the Department of Transportation (DOT) to review and, if appropriate, establish policies directing air carriers to seat children 13 or under adjacent to the seat of an accompanying family member over the age of 13.  

            By statute, the DOT was required to take final action on both of these regulations no later than one year after enactment of the bill – or July 16, 2017.  Unfortunately, neither regulation has been finalized by the deadline.

            As we enter the heart of the summer travel season, each further day of delay causes substantial consumer harm.  According to DOT statistics, in 2016, the top 13 U.S. carriers collected almost $4.2 billion in ancillary baggage fees.  This works out to approximately $11.4 million in checked baggage fees per day.  And, even assuming that only two percent of paid checked baggage is not delivered within the deadlines, that amounts to almost $229,000 in refunds that consumers are not receiving every day this rule is delayed.

            Furthermore, the failure to promulgate the family seating regulation also causes substantial consumer harm.  This summer, almost all flights are completely full.  When a family is not able to obtain adjoining seating for children 13 or under, it causes undue stress and discomfort as family members are often forced to beg other passengers to move so they can sit next to a young child. 

            In recent months, the DOT has spent a substantial amount of time on issues, such as privatization of the FAA’s air traffic control function, that appear to be taking away resources from statutory mandates – like these important aviation consumer protection requirements.   I urge you to act now to give the flying public the protections they were promised in last year’s FAA extension.

            Thank you in advance for your assistance with this important matter.

 

Sincerely, 

BILL NELSON

<p>Good morning.&nbsp; Today the

Good morning.  Today the Subcommittee meets for an update on FirstNet and its efforts to deploy the nationwide, interoperable public safety broadband network.  I am glad to convene this hearing with my good friend and colleague Ranking Member Schatz.

In 2012, Congress created the First Responder Network Authority to lead the development of a nationwide, interoperable public safety broadband network in the United States.  Following the communications failures that plagued recovery efforts during 9/11, and other national emergencies, including Hurricane Katrina, there was – and still is – a clear need for a reliable communications network to support the essential work of our public safety officials.  Such a network would improve coordination among first responders across multiple jurisdictions and enhance the ability of first responders to provide life-saving emergency services quickly.  

Last year, this Subcommittee convened for an update on FirstNet’s progress in establishing the public safety broadband network.  At the time, we heard from FirstNet about how it intended to address the unique and individualized needs of each state in deploying the radio access network.  FirstNet also reiterated its commitment to providing reliable coverage to rural areas.  FirstNet assured members of the Subcommittee that user fees would be reasonably and affordably priced for public safety users – two issues of great importance to first responders around the country.

Since that time, much has happened. 

  • Last November, FirstNet opened an Innovation and Test Lab to develop and test new devices and applications that could be used by first responders on the future public safety network.  
  • In March, FirstNet formally selected AT&T as its industry partner to build, operate, and maintain the network over the next 25 years. 
  • And last month, FirstNet issued the initial state plans, which detail its deployment proposals for the radio access network in each of the 56 U.S. states and territories.  States are now reviewing these plans and providing feedback to FirstNet and AT&T before the finalized plans are issued in the fall.

Today, I look forward to hearing more about each of these actions.  I am eager to learn about FirstNet and AT&T’s network buildout plans and how they will leverage existing infrastructure assets within states to maximize coverage in rural areas and save taxpayer dollars.  I hope our witnesses will also address the development of subscription pricing plans for public safety officials to use the network and how those plans are being developed in coordination with the states.  

Likewise, I look forward to hearing about the resiliency of the network: in particular, how FirstNet and AT&T will harden and secure it from potential cyber threats, natural disasters, and other unplanned events.  Additionally, I am interested in how FirstNet and AT&T will incorporate feedback from the states before the initial plans are finalized.

By any estimation, the development of this nationwide public safety broadband network is a challenge.  But it is an important endeavor to ensure that first responders can fulfill their daily mission to save lives.  At the center of this effort is the courage of our nation’s first responders, who put their lives on the line every day – in Mississippi and across the nation – to protect our families, neighborhoods, and communities.  They deserve a network that is interoperable, reliable, and secure.

An Update on FirstNet

U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet, will convene a hearing titled “An Update on FirstNet” at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, July 20, 2017. The subcommittee will examine FirstNet and AT&T’s progress to date and the anticipated timeline to build, operate, and maintain an interoperable nationwide public safety broadband network as established by the Middle Class Tax Relief And Job Creation Act of 2012.
 
Witnesses:

•    Mr. Curtis Brown, Deputy Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security, Commonwealth of Virginia
•    Dr. Damon Darsey, Assistant Professor, University of Mississippi Medical Center
•    Mr. Mark Goldstein, Physical Issues Director, Government Accountability Office
•    Mr. Michael Poth, Chief Executive Officer, FirstNet
•    Mr. Chris Sambar, Senior Vice President, AT&T
 
Hearing Details:

Thursday, July 20, 2017
10:00 a.m.
Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet

This hearing will take place in Russell Senate Office Building, Room 253. Witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov.
 

21st Century Medicine: How Telehealth Can Help Rural Communities

House Small Business Committee News - Thu, 07/20/2017 - 10:00am

The Committee on Small Business Subcommittees on Agriculture, Energy, and Trade and Health and Technology will meet for a joint hearing titled, “21st Century Medicine: How Telehealth Can Help Rural Communities.” The hearing is scheduled to begin at 10:00 A.M. on Thursday, July 20, 2017 in Room 2360 of the Rayburn House Office Building.  

The hearing will focus on the current utilization of telehealth services and how expansion of telehealth services could benefit small businesses and rural communities.

Attachments
1. Hearing Notice
2. Witness List

Witnesses
Ms. A. Nicole Clowers
Managing Director
Health Care Team
United States Government Accountability Office
Washington, DC
Testimony
Disclosure

Ms. Barb Johnston
Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder
HealthLinkNow
Sacramento, CA
Testimony
Disclosure

Mr. Michael Adcock
Administrator
Center for Telehealth
University of Mississippi Medical Center
Jackson, MS
Testimony
Disclosure




No Place Too Far for Telemedicine

House Small Business Committee News - Thu, 07/20/2017 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON – Today, Members of the House Small Business Subcommittees on Agriculture, Energy and Trade and Health and Technology heard from leading pioneers in the telehealth industry. They discussed the current use of telehealth services and how expansion can benefit small businesses and rural communities.

While twenty percent of Americans live in rural areas, only nine percent of physicians practice there,” said Agriculture, Energy, and Trade Subcommittee Chairman Rod Blum (R-IA). “Telehealth may allow rural physicians to expand their patient base and to keep dollars in the community, benefiting other local small businesses such as retail establishments and restaurants, contributing to the sense of ‘community’ that American small towns pride themselves on.”

“If medical treatment is unavailable on the Samoan Islands, patients, including many VA beneficiaries, generally have to fly nearly 3,000 miles to Hawaii to see a specialist,” said Health and Technology Subcommittee Chairwoman Amata Radewagen (R-AS). “One way to alleviate these physician shortages would be to incorporate the use of telehealth and remote patient monitoring into the offices of physicians and other health care professionals.”

A. Nicole Clowers, Managing Director for Health Care with the United States Government Accountability Office said, “For certain individuals, such as those who live in remote areas or who cannot easily travel long distances, access to health care services can be challenging. Telehealth can provide an alternative to health care provided in person at a physician’s office by providing clinical care remotely through two-way video for services such as psychotherapy or the evaluation and management of conditions.”

“To maintain and improve the economic vitality of rural America it is essential that rural people are kept healthy and that rural communities are supported by a full range of medical services, delivered both in person, and increasingly, by telemedicine,” said Barb Johnston, CEO of HealthLinkNow in Sacramento, California. “Telemedicine has demonstrated its effectiveness over the past 50 years and already benefits rural America by encouraging the recruitment and retention of local physicians and other healthcare providers who can be supported by telemedicine providers.”

“The TelEmergency program has grown to serve more than 20 hospitals and continues to produce outcomes on par with that of our Level 1 trauma center,” said Michael P. Adcock, Executive Director for the Center for Telehealth at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi. Mississippi officials “extrapolated this data to show the potential savings of over $180 million per year if 20 percent of the diabetics on Mississippi Medicaid participated in this program.” 

You can view full video of today’s hearing HERE and full witness testimony HERE.

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Reversing the Entrepreneurship Decline

House Small Business Committee News - Wed, 07/19/2017 - 2:00pm

The Committee on Small Business will meet for a hearing titled, “Reversing the Entrepreneurship Decline.” The hearing is scheduled to begin at 11:00 A.M. on Wednesday, July 19, 2017 in Room 2360 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

The hearing will provide the Committee with an opportunity to understand the entrepreneurship trends, challenges, and opportunities that exist in the United States. This hearing will also examine how entrepreneurship influences leading economic indicators and potential solutions to promote new and existing small businesses

Attachments

1. Hearing Notice
2. Witness List

Witnesses

Mr. Larry Kudlow
Senior Contributor
CNBC
Fairfield, CT
Testimony 
Disclosure

Gregory Crawford, Ph.D.
President
Miami University
Oxford, Ohio
Testimony 
Disclosure

Ms. Karen Kerrigan
President & CEO
Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council
Vienna, VA
Testimony 
Disclosure

Mr. Joe Schocken
CEO
Broadmark Capital
Seattle, WA 
Testimony 
Disclosure



Committee Announces Hearing for Four Nominees

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene a nomination hearing at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, July 26, 2017, for four nominees.

Nomination Hearing - FCC

Click to view livestream.

Ranking Member Bill Nelson Opening Statement

The committee has before it today all three nominees to the Federal Communications Commission.  As we well know, the commission plays a vital role in protecting consumers and competition, and we should carefully review the qualifications to carry out this role of all persons nominated to serve as commissioners to this agency.

For Jessica Rosenworcel, it has been a long and winding road – when in reality she should already be well into her second term on the agency.  I want to thank you for your patience, perseverance, and your continued willingness to serve the public on the commission.  Your expertise, good judgement, and dedication to the public interest are essential.

Mr. Carr, congratulations on your nomination. It seems clear that you are well liked and well regarded by the communications bar. 

But the two consecutive terms to which the Senate is being asked to confirm you would provide you with the longest single, initial period of service of any nominee to the FCC.  In addition, it is hard to recall a similar situation where someone was nominated to serve at the commission alongside, rather than to follow, their current boss. 

We must have commissioners with an independent voice at this critical independent regulatory agency and ones who will fight for consumers and the public interest. 

That is why I will urge my colleagues to take a particularly hard look at confirming Mr. Carr to two consecutive terms.  It seems to me that the wiser course would be to hold this hearing, consider his qualifications, and, if he is confirmed, see how he does over the next year or two before confirming him to an additional term at the top of this agency. 

Finally, let me welcome back Chairman Pai.  You have been busy since your last appearance.  I want to give you due credit for many of the actions the FCC took at its open meeting last week.  They included several solid, pro-consumer actions aimed at improving the lives of Americans.

But make no mistake, many view these most recent consumer protection actions as mere icing on what is otherwise an unpalatable cake. 

A cake constructed out of actions that eliminate competitive protections, that threaten dangerous industry consolidation, that make the internet less free and less open, and that weaken critical consumer protections for those most vulnerable.  I cautioned you earlier this year that I would judge your success at the agency on your ability to put the public interest ahead of powerful special interests.  And I fear, frankly, that so far you have not taken that advice I provided many months ago to heart.

Ultimately, we need commissioners who have consumers’ backs. We need commissioners who are not afraid to use the robust statutory authority Congress has given the FCC to protect consumers.  On behalf of those consumers, this committee will be watching your actions – and those of your colleagues – very closely.

<p>Today we welcome three well

Today we welcome three well-qualified nominees to testify before the Committee as we consider their nominations to serve as commissioners at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).  I’d also like to welcome the families of the nominees who are here today.

While this is a confirmation hearing, given the issues we’ll be discussing and the extensive experience of the nominees, it will also serve as this Committee’s second FCC oversight hearing this year, fulfilling a commitment I’ve made to hold regular, biannual oversight hearings of the Commission.

It would be hard to imagine a group of nominees more well-versed in the agency they’ve been nominated to lead.

Ajit Pai, who has been renominated to a second term by President Trump, and was designated by the President to be the Chairman of the FCC this past January, has served as a Commissioner since 2012, when he was confirmed by voice vote in the Senate.  Prior to becoming a commissioner, Chairman Pai worked on telecommunications policy in both the public and private sectors, notably serving here in the Senate as a staffer on the Judiciary Committee, as well as in the general counsel’s office at the FCC.

Jessica Rosenworcel, who has also been renominated by President Trump for a second term at the FCC, is well known to the Committee and has nearly two decades of experience in communications policy.  She served as an FCC commissioner from May 2012 until January 2017, and before that, served as a senior staffer on the Commerce Committee for both Chairman Rockefeller and Chairman Inouye.

Brendan Carr, who is currently the FCC’s General Counsel, has worked at the Commission for a number of years, first in the office that he now heads and more recently as lead advisor to then-Commissioner Pai on wireless and public safety issues.  He previously worked in private practice for Wiley Rein in the firm’s appellate, litigation, and telecom practices.

In my view, the FCC will be in very good hands when all three of these nominees are confirmed.

Since becoming Chairman, Mr. Pai has made much-needed reforms to improve transparency at the FCC and to improve the agency’s processes.  I am particularly heartened by Chairman Pai’s efforts to treat fellow commissioners fairly by instituting the process of sharing documents with other commissioners before discussing them publicly, as well as starting a pilot project to publicly release the text of all agenda items in advance of Commission meetings.  I frequently criticized the previous chairman’s hyper-partisan leadership approach on these issues because I believed it would lead to counter-productive outcomes over the long term.  Chairman Pai’s new approach should lead to more long-lasting and positive results at the FCC.

With respect to internet regulations, I am pleased that Chairman Pai has sought to hit the reset button on the 2015 Title II Order, because, as I have previously said, the FCC should do what is necessary to rebalance the agency’s regulatory posture under current law.  I continue to believe, however, that the best way to provide long-term protections for the internet is for Congress to pass bipartisan legislation.  Two and a half years ago I put forward legislative principles and a draft bill to begin the conversation, and I stand ready and willing today to work toward finding a lasting legislative solution that will resolve the dispute over net neutrality once and for all.

Thankfully, the net neutrality debate has not distracted the FCC from important work in other areas.  For instance, the FCC’s proposed rulemaking on robocalls is a positive step in the right direction.  The government must do everything we can to protect consumers from those who are truly the bad actors, which is one reason why this committee has advanced Senator Nelson’s anti-spoofing legislation.  But we also need to be sure the government’s rules are not unfairly punishing legitimate callers who are not acting maliciously.  The FCC’s Notice of Inquiry will give that conversation a much-needed jumpstart.

Given the FCC’s importance to the future of our economy and our society, it is important for the Commission to seek opportunities for common ground.  As I noted last fall, the previous chairman unfortunately led the Commission with unprecedented partisan zeal.  I know that agreement is not always possible.  Nevertheless, as a corrective to the Commission’s recent history, I urge you all to treat each other fairly, to respect the law, to be willing to ask Congress for guidance, and to seek consensus whenever and wherever possible.  Doing so will improve the agency’s credibility and will result in actions that are more likely to endure.

Before I close, I want to extend my thanks to Chairman Pai for visiting my home state of South Dakota last month, as well as the emphasis the agency has placed on bridging the digital divide for rural states like mine where many are still without broadband service.  The actions the agency has taken to advance the long-delayed second phases of both the Mobility Fund and the Connect America Fund will go a long way to ensure millions of Americans living in rural states will have access to an increasingly important service.  I deeply appreciate it, and I also want to take the opportunity to invite Ms. Rosenworcel and Mr. Carr to visit South Dakota as well.

Thank you all for your willingness to serve the nation in these important positions, and thanks again to your families for supporting your service.  As I’ve indicated, I support all three of these nominees, and look forward to confirming them quickly.  With that, I now turn to the distinguished ranking member for any remarks he would like to make.

Key Lawmakers Move to Improve HUBZone Program

House Small Business Committee News - Wed, 07/19/2017 - 12:00am

Washington, DC Bipartisan leadership of the House Small Business Committee today unveiled legislation to improve and reform the Historically Underutilized Business Zone Program (HUBZone), a procurement initiative that provides federal assistance to firms in economically distressed areas.  Created in 1998, the HUBZone helps small companies in these areas to do business with the federal government.  The program is overseen by the Small Business Administration (SBA).

H.R. 3294, the HUBZONE Unification and Business Stability Act (HUBS), was introduced by Ranking Member Velázquez (D-NY), and co-sponsored by Chairman Chabot (R-OH). H.R. 3294 would make important reforms to the HUBZone program, ensuring the initiative functions more efficiently and effectively, creating greater opportunity in areas that face significant economic hurdles. 

“This HUBZone reform packages includes new performance metrics,” said Chairman Chabot. “By collecting data, the SBA and Congress will better be able to determine how well the program is working and what needs to be changed. Also, accelerating the application process will allow small businesses interested in the program to get a quicker response from the SBA, meaning instead of waiting for a response, they can spend their valuable time and resources on growing their businesses.”

“The HUBZone program recognizes the benefits that federal contracts have for local communities that are often struggling to create and retain well-paying jobs,” said Ranking Member Velázquez. “After carefully studying and listening to small businesses on the ground, I’m confident the reforms we are proposing will strengthen the HUBZone initiative and, ultimately, mean greater economic opportunity for those living in economically distressed regions.”

Other reforms this bill would make include:

  • The bill would establish a 5-year cycle for determining the geographic boundaries of HUBZones, creating greater certainty for companies operating in the program.
  • The bill would change the calculations by which certain geographic areas qualify for the program, potentially adding as many as 1,000 rural and non-urban counties, helping more businesses avail themselves of the HUBZone initiative’s benefits. 

These and other changes would be implemented beginning in 2020. 

“Ultimately, we are helping bring greater transparency and stability to the HUBZone program,” noted Velázquez. “When HUBZones operate as intended, it can be a powerful tool for stimulating commerce in parts of the country afflicted by economic hardship and this bill will make important strides toward that goal.  I thank Chairman Chabot for working with me on these proposals.” 

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Chairwoman Foxx Opening Statement: Markup of H.R. 2823, the Affordable Retirement Advice for Savers Act

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 07/19/2017 - 12:00am
After decades of hard work, retirement should be a time to spend with family and grandchildren, explore new hobbies, and simply enjoy life.
 
But today, Americans across the country are having a hard time putting enough money aside for their retirement years.

It can be very challenging. Many individuals don’t even know where to begin, and so they turn to a trusted financial advisor to help them plan for the future.
 
Here in Washington, we need to do everything we can to empower more Americans to retire with the financial security they need. And we have a responsibility to ensure misguided federal policies don’t stand in the way.
 
That’s exactly why this committee has led the fight against the Obama administration’s flawed fiduciary rule for the past seven years.

Since the regulatory process began in 2010, we’ve repeatedly warned that the rule will lead to higher costs and fewer options for hardworking men and women as they save for retirement.

We’ve held numerous hearings over the years, sent countless oversight letters, urged the Obama administration to take a more reasonable approach, and passed a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act when they failed to listen.

Last year, we even advanced bipartisan legislation that would have achieved the Obama administration’s stated goal of enhancing protections for retirement savers. The main difference was that it didn’t restrict access to affordable retirement advice for low- and middle-income individuals.

It wasn’t just Republicans who raised concerns as the Obama administration crafted this fundamentally flawed rule. Let’s not forget that many of our concerns were echoed by congressional Democrats.

In a 2015 letter to former Secretary of Labor Perez, 100 House Democrats wrote that “it is vital that the proposal doesn’t limit consumer choice and access to advice, have a disproportionate impact on lower- and middle-income communities, or raise the costs of saving for retirement.”

Along those same lines, a group of Senate Democrats wrote that “it is important that any guidance enhance and not diminish savings opportunities for small businesses and moderate income families.”

These concerns expressed by Democrats are precisely why we continue to oppose the fiduciary rule.

Here we are today with a rule that’s completely unworkable and so complicated and burdensome that it will cause millions of Americans to lose access to their trusted financial advisors. According to the American Action Forum, the rule imposes $46 billion in costs on retirement savers.

Many small business owners — who are already struggling to offer retirement plans — may soon find they no longer have access to the critical advice they need to set up retirement plans for their employees.

Already, firms are beginning to drop the types of account options Americans with fewer savings often rely on.

A recent report found that 71 percent of financial advisors will stop providing advice to many savers with lower account balances in response to the rule. And it notes that up to seven million retirement savers could lose access to retirement advice altogether.

These are consequences the American people cannot afford. We all agree that financial advisors should act in good faith. But we can achieve that shared goal without hurting low- and middle-income families and employees of small businesses.

This issue should have always been addressed by Congress, not government bureaucrats. It’s an issue that impacts the retirement security of Americans across the country, and the people’s representatives should address it legislatively.

That’s why we are here today. It’s time to put an end to this convoluted regulatory scheme and advance meaningful solutions that will improve protections for retirement savers.

The Affordable Retirement Advice for Savers Act will overturn the fiduciary rule to ensure every American has access to the tools they need to save for retirement. It also amends federal law to require retirement advisors to act in the best interests of their clients. Again, legislation — not 1,000 pages of red tape — is the right way to do this.

I want to thank our colleague, Representative Roe, for championing this effort for years. Members of both parties have supported similar legislation in the past. It is my hope Republicans and Democrats can come together once again. The American people are depending on us to do just that.

Statement by Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN): Markup of H.R. 2823, the Affordable Retirement Advice for Savers Act

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 07/19/2017 - 12:00am
For years, the Committee on Education and the Workforce has been fighting to preserve access to affordable retirement advice.

Since the Obama administration first proposed changes to the policies governing retirement advice, we’ve led oversight efforts here in Congress.

As the former chairman of the subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions, I presided over a number of hearings where we heard firsthand how this new rule will jeopardize small business retirement plans, make it harder for low- and middle-income individuals to save for retirement, and restrict basic services, such as assistance in rolling over funds from a 401(k).

Although this misguided rule has already taken effect, our fight continues on behalf of hardworking men and women in my home state of Tennessee and across the country.

To be clear, we completely agree that Americans deserve retirement advice that’s in their best interest. That’s what we’ve been saying all along.

But a rule requiring so-called “sound retirement advice” achieves nothing if it means many people will no longer have access to retirement advice at all. According to one estimate, seven million retirement savers may lose access to advice altogether because of the fiduciary rule.

We are just beginning to see the real-world consequences of this rule take shape. Firms are starting to eliminate more affordable retirement account options in favor of fee-based plans that are out of reach for many families with lower incomes.

We don’t have to accept these consequences. We can pass legislation to fix the fiduciary mess while enhancing protections for retirement savers at the same time.

The proposal before us today will do just that. The Affordable Retirement Advice for Savers Act does not simply repeal the Obama administration’s fiduciary rule; it amends the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and the Internal Revenue Code to establish a statutory definition of “investment advice.”

Unlike the confusing, complicated and unworkable fiduciary rule, this clear standard would require retirement advisors to act in the best interests of their clients without causing millions of Americans to lose access to their trusted financial advisor, and without limiting the ability of small businesses to help their employees save for retirement.

In other words, this proposal achieves the Obama administration’s alleged goal of holding financial advisors accountable without undermining the retirement security of working families.

When the American people face a harmful rule that will have such a far-reaching, negative impact, we have a responsibility to do everything we can to stop it. We cannot stand idly by as a new rule threatens to weaken our nation’s retirement security at a time when so many families are struggling to save and invest.  In 2015, the GAO found that 29 percent of Americans 55 and older have no retirement savings and no traditional pension. In fact, today, nearly 40 million working families haven’t saved a dime for retirement.

I hope members of both parties will do the right thing and support the Affordable Retirement Advice for Savers so we can strengthen retirement protections and empower more Americans to plan for the future they want.

How Can We Reverse the Entrepreneurship Decline?

House Small Business Committee News - Wed, 07/19/2017 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON – Today, the House Small Business Committee heard from industry experts on the challenges facing entrepreneurs and how the success of our small businesses have a major effect on the strength of our economy.   

“New and small businesses create the majority of our nation’s jobs and spur innovation. However, since the Great Recession, there has been a significant decline in entrepreneurship, which may in part explain the slow economic growth experienced in America today,” said House Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH).

“Universities have an important role to play in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. We can be critical players as the testing ground for the next generation of innovators. This involves not only focusing on what happens in the classroom but also giving students the breadth of knowledge in entrepreneurial thinking and emerging technologies necessary to thrive in any career. That includes opportunities for invaluable real-world experience that will prepare them to create their own business or excel in one,” said Gregory Crawford, Ph.D., President of Miami University in Oxford Ohio.

“Federal agencies are currently undergoing a process where they are reviewing regulations to identify those that can be streamlined, updated or repealed if they are duplicative or outdated. This is a healthy and needed process, and it is very positive to see the SBA’s Office of Advocacy directly engaged through their development of an online platform for small business input, and hosting roundtables across the country to receive their direct input. Clearing regulatory underbrush and streamlining rules is a good for startups and the U.S. business environment,” said Ms. Karen Kerrigan, President and CEO of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council in Vienna, VA.

You can view the full video of today’s hearing HERE and read the full witness testimony HERE

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DHS and DOL Issues Increases the Cap for H-2B Visas by 15,000

Office of Advocacy - Tue, 07/18/2017 - 5:50pm

On July 17, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Labor (DOL) issued a temporary rule increasing the numerical limitation on H-2B nonimmigrant visas to authorize the issuance of up to an additional 15,000 through the end of Fiscal Year (FY) 2017.  To file for one of these additional H-2B visas, petitioners must meet all existing H-2B eligibility requirements. 

Categories: Latest News, SBA Advocate

USCIS Delays Effective Date of International Entrepreneur Rule

Office of Advocacy - Tue, 07/18/2017 - 5:40pm

On July 11, 2017, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released a final rule delaying the effective date of the International Entrepreneur Rule from July 17, 2017 to March 14, 2018. The final rule would have allowed international entrepreneurs to utilize the parole program to stay temporarily in the United States to grow their start-up businesses and create U.S.

Categories: Latest News, SBA Advocate

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