Herrera Beutler’s small business bill clears House committee

By Stevie Mathieu, Columbian Assistant Metro Editor



Legislation introduced by U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler to help small businesses compete for federal government contracts passed out of the House Small Business Committee on Wednesday.

It’s the first-term Camas Republican’s first bill to pass through a congressional committee. The proposal, named the “Small Business Opportunity Act of 2012,” would make changes within the Small Business Administration and allow small business advocates to get involved earlier in the federal contracting process.

“This bill represents one more way that Congress can maximize the opportunities for America’s small businesses,” Herrera Beutler said in a news release. “I’m grateful to see the bipartisan support for this jobs bill continue to grow.”

Herrera Beutler and Oregon Democrat Kurt Schrader are the bill’s original sponsors; they introduced the legislation on Feb. 8.

Currently, small business advocates are not included in the bidding process for federal contracts until just before the federal government releases a proposal

request for the contract or a request for a price quote. Herrera Beutler’s bill would have small business advocates involved at the beginning of the planning process for a federal government contract.

“The bill was written after studies showed that (procurement center representatives with the SBA) often get federal contracts at the last minute, and don’t have enough time making sure they’re written in a way that allows small businesses to compete for them,” Herrera Beutler’s spokesman, Casey Bowman, said Wednesday.

The legislation also would require federal contract plans to address how small businesses could be used for the job.

Additionally, it would take some duties away from the Small Business Administration’s advocates, freeing up more time for them to help small businesses compete for federal government contracts. The duties removed are those already covered by other agencies, such as their task to offer training classes.

Committee members added three amendments that did not alter the bill significantly. Bowman said Herrera Beutler supports all three amendments.

One amendment clarifies the amount of time the small business advocates would have to receive any certification or training needed to participate earlier in the contracting process, Bowman said. Another amendment would require some Small Business Administration employees besides the advocates to also receive that additional training.

The third amendment requires, upon final passage of the bill, that a study be conducted to examine the legislation’s effects on the economy and the federal workforce, Bowman said.

The bill’s next step is a vote before the entire U.S. House of Representatives.

“I hear from small businesses in Southwest Washington that they are ready to compete, want to grow, and hope to start hiring new employees,” Herrera Beutler said last month about the proposal. “Small businesses and entrepreneurs will help lead our region’s economic recovery, and I will continue to pursue solutions that allow them to succeed.”

The bill is H.R. 3980.

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