Democrats want SBA legislation hearing

Small Business Reauthorization Act of 2006 [PDF]

House Democrats today called for an open process as the legislation that would reauthorize the Small Business Administration awaits consideration.

In a letter to House Small Business Committee Chairman Rep. Don Manzullo (R-Ill.), Democrats on the committee asked for a hearing to be scheduled.

Manzullo had originally scheduled the bill, the Small Business Reauthorization Act of 2006, to be marked up -- the process of approving or rejecting proposed amendments -- May 17. According to a statement from Manzullo, a flood of proposed amendments came in the final hours before that markup session was to begin, most of them well past the deadline of 5 p.m. the previous day, so he postponed the session.

According to the statement, there were 47 amendments submitted just before the markup session was to begin, along with word that the committee's Democratic staff members were working on a 200-page substitute bill.

According to committee Democrats, the original legislation made only limited changes to the agency and was written with little input from committee members. More than 50 amendments were ultimately filed in an effort to shore up the language in the bill, the committee Democrats stated.

“Given the recent barriers that have been facing SBA, it is clear that decisive action by Congress is needed to restore the agency to its full potential,” said Rep. Nydia Velázquez, (D-N.Y.), ranking Democrat. “That is why it is vital that all of the necessary steps are taken to ensure that this legislation meets the needs of our nation’s small businesses.”

The legislation as originally written did not address agency weaknesses identified in Government Accountability Office and inspector general reports, she said.

“The reality is that our small businesses are facing challenges everywhere they turn today,” Velázquez said. “That is why this reauthorization is more important now than ever. The last thing Congress should be doing is passing a bill that promises a lot but delivers little to entrepreneurs."

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