Landrieu to chair Senate small business committee
- By Matthew Weigelt
- Dec 16, 2008
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) will be the new chairwoman of the Small
Business and Entrepreneurship Committee in the next Congress, the
senator and the committee have announced.
“I intend to use my
gavel to ensure that [small businesses] play an active role in our
nation’s economic recovery and that the federal government is a
supportive and efficient partner in their success,” she said in a
statement released Dec. 15.
Landrieu has introduced several
bills to help small businesses, especially in the Gulf Coast region
after hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. One bill would have turned
places declared disaster areas into Historically Underutilized Business
Zones. Businesses in such zones are given top preference for federal
She also introduced a bill that would have
allowed small businesses that were affected by the hurricanes to stay
in the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) set-aside program for two
years longer than usual. Neither bill became law.
taking the place of Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), who will become chairman
of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. While he was chairman of the
small-business committee, Kerry traveled to Louisiana with Landrieu
after the hurricanes.
“I saw firsthand her passion for helping small-business owners in her state and across the country,” he said.
Landrieu’s direction as the committee’s leader is difficult to
determine, said Lloyd Chapman, president of the American Small Business
League. Committee chairmen often take different paths than expected, he
Chapman said he was disappointed to learn that Kerry
would not close loopholes that allow large companies to receive
contracts set aside for small businesses.
For example, in 2006
and 2007, the Interior Department awarded more than $5.7 million in
small-business contracts to large corporations, some of which are
Fortune 500 companies, according to an inspector general's report from
“I am very hopeful that under [Landrieu’s] leadership, we
will finally fill in existing loopholes in federal small-business
contracting programs and get these funds going to the small businesses
around the country that need them so desperately,” Chapman said.
Eckerly, vice president for federal public policy at the National
Federation of Independent Business, said she’s pleased with the choice
of Landrieu as chairman. Eckerly said she hopes Landrieu will oppose
the federal government’s practice of contract bundling, which can put
small companies at a disadvantage.
Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.