The House has passed seven bipartisan small business bills aimed at improving the operation and oversight of key Small Business Administration (SBA) programs.
7 Small Business Bills Pass US House
The slew of bills includes legislation to extend the statute of limitations on small business pandemic fraud cases, enhance workforce development offerings, and improve the procurement process for small businesses. Among the bills passed two would establish a ten-year statute of limitations for prosecutions related to fraud related to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL).
“These seven bills will help make key SBA programs more secure, accessible, and focused on the most pressing challenges for small firms”, said Chairwoman Nydia M. Velázquez of New York.
What are the resolutions?
The bills are designed to promote policies that encourage small business development, hold small business pandemic fraudsters accountable, develop the small business workforce, and support small contractors doing business with the federal government.
- House Resolution 7352 PPP and Bank Fraud Enforcement Harmonization Act of 2022 would establish a 10-year statute of limitations for all forms of PPP loan fraud, including cases involving fintech originated loans, consistent with that for bank fraud legislation.
- House Resolution 7334, COVID-19 EIDL Fraud Statute of Limitations Act of 2022 would establish a 10-year statute of limitations for all COVID EIDL fraud, including for EIDL Advances and Targeted EIDL Advances.
- House Resolution 7622, Small Business Workforce Pipeline Act of 2022 would allow Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) to aid small businesses regarding apprenticeship, pre-apprenticeship, and job training programs by disseminating information from the Department of Labor (DOL).
- House Resolution 7664, Supporting Small Business and Career and Technical Education Act of 2022 would help small businesses meet their hiring needs. This legislation directs SBDCs and WBCs to assist small businesses in hiring graduates from career and technical education programs, in addition to the existing services SBDCs and WBCs provide. Moreover, this legislation supports career and technical education graduates by directing SBDCs and WBCs to assist them in starting up a small business.
- House Resolution 7670 Women-Owned Small Business Program Transparency Act would establish reporting requirements for the WOSB Program aimed at improving transparency, accountability, and ensuring that Congress receives the necessary data to closely monitor these issues. It would require SBA to provide information as to the amount of contracting dollars awarded through the program. It also includes the number of certifications being issued, the number of program examinations being conducted, the number of companies being decertified, and the number of contracts incorrectly awarded under industries or NAICS codes ineligible to the program. Any actions taken by the SBA to properly train agency personnel is also part of the monitoring.
- House Resolution 5879 Hubzone Price Evaluation Preference Clarification Act of 2021 would seek to clarify the price evaluation preference, which allows HUBZone businesses to compete on a level playing field, does apply to orders.
- House Resolution 7694 Strengthening Subcontracting for Small Businesses Act of 2022 would encourage compliance of subcontracting plans by extending the requirement that an agency must consider prior compliance with these plans when evaluating an offeror’s past performance to all contract awards that include a subcontracting plan.
Clamping Down on PPP and EIDL Loan Fraud
The bills that are tackling PPP and EIDL loan fraud are expected to further support the federal government’s efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. Last year the Attorney General had established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to provide additional resources to the Department of Justice and other agencies to clamp down on pandemic-related fraud.
Subsequently, the Secret Service’s investigations into unemployment insurance and Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan fraud has resulted in the seizure of more than $1.2 billion while recuperating more than $2.3 billion of fraudulently obtained funds, and the Unemployment Insurance program.
Why Shoring Up Small Businesses is Important
Small businesses are considered the backbone of America’s economy. And according to the Small Business Administration, they account for 99.9 % of US businesses. This comes out to 32.5 million small businesses employing 61.2 million people, or 46.8% of US employees.
According to the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), April 2022 Small Business Optimism Index stayed at 93.2 and the fourth consecutive month below the 48-year average of 98. The number of small business owners expecting better business conditions over the next six months has decreased by one point to a net negative 50%, the lowest level recorded in the 48-year-old survey.
Among the challenges that small businesses face, inflation factors in high. This is followed by small business owners concerned over the tight labor market with job openings remaining unfilled and uncertainties from global conditions such as rising fuel prices and supply chain disruptions.
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