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A Markup With The House Small Biz Committee

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Posted by Jaimie McFarlin - Last week, I had the opportunity to attend my first bill markup with the House Committee on Small Business. A markup is the process by which a U.S. congressional committee debates, amends, and rewrites proposed legislation.

During the markup, the Committee considered two bills, H.R. 527, "The Regulatory Flexibility Improvement Act," and H.R. 585, "The Small Business Size Standards Flexibility Act." Both bills are meant to reform the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (RFA): H.R. 527 strengthens and broadens the powers of the Small Business Agency’s Office of Advocacy, while H.R. 585 authorizes the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration to define small business size standards. My fellow intern, Sung, wrote a blog post on this subject earlier this summer.

According to the Republicans on the Committee, the bills “will close loopholes used by agencies to avoid compliance with the Regulatory Flexibility Act, require a better assessment of the impacts that regulations will have on small businesses, force agencies to perform better periodic review of rules, and grant the Chief Counsel for Advocacy at the Small Business Administration (SBA) greater powers for enforcement of the RFA.”

The RFA of 1980 was perhaps one of the single most important pieces of legislation for small businesses as it called for the balancing of the social goals in federal regulations with the needs and capabilities of American small businesses.

Democrats voiced some concerns about the current legislation. Ranking Member Nydia M. Velazquez (D-N.Y.), asked “whether the legislation expands the Regulatory Flexibility Act too broadly, making the system inefficient.”

She suggested that the SBA’s Office of Advocacy, which would be granted the responsibility to carry out new duties under this act, would not have sufficient resources to review new regulations for the additional federal agencies required by H.R. 527.

Both bills passed with negligible amending, but I definitely understood Ranking Member Velazquez’s concerns. With the current fiscal concerns of the government, the challenge is balancing the empowerment and oversight of the SBA with current restraints on government spending.

The video of the mark-up is available online

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