Congress passes Herrera Beutler proposal

Her measure would give small businesses a hand winning federal contracts

By Stevie Mathieu, Columbian assistant metro editor

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Legislation introduced by U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler to help small businesses compete for government contracts was sent to the president's desk for a signature Friday.

Language from the Camas Republican's small-business proposal was folded into the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, which passed in the House on Thursday evening and in the Senate on Friday. Herrera Beutler was invited to join negotiations between the House and the Senate while they came to an agreement on the defense spending bill, according to a Friday news release by her office.

The bill would make changes within the Small Business Administration and allow small-business advocates to get involved earlier in the federal contracting process. Herrera Beutler's spokesman, Casey Bowman, said, "the bill would expand opportunities for more than 900 Southwest Washington small businesses who wish to compete for federal contracts."

Additionally, the bill would require federal contract plans to address how small businesses could be used for the job.

It would also take some duties away from the Small Business Administration's advocates, freeing up time for them to help small businesses compete for federal government contracts. The duties removed, such as training classes, are covered by other agencies.

"This is a win for small businesses and jobs in Southwest Washington and throughout the country," Herrera Beutler said. "I'm honored to be part of a group in Congress that is compromising and working to get things done for families and job-seekers back home."

Herrera Beutler and Oregon Democrat Kurt Schrader are the bill's original sponsors; they introduced the legislation Feb. 8. The proposal, the "Small Business Opportunity Act of 2012," cleared its House committee a month later.

Eventually, the bill was added to the House's defense spending plan with the intention of helping small businesses compete for defense contracts.

If signed by President Barack Obama, the small-business bill would be Herrera Beutler's second piece of legislation to become U.S. law; the first was her proposal to ease water-runoff regulations on forest roads. She will begin her second term in Congress next month.


Stevie Mathieu: 360-735-4523; http://facebook.com/reportermathieu; http://twitter.com/col_politics; stevie.mathieu@columbian.com.