January 14, 2020

By Caity Witucki
Contributing Editor, SBA Hot Topic Tuesday

SBA Hot Topic Tuesday – Update on the Re-authorization of the Small Business Act

At the Secondary Market Summit in Washington DC, Senate Committee staff member, Renee Bender, provided an update for the re-authorization of the Small Business Act and the Small Business Investment Act.

Bender told the room that when U.S. Senator Marco Rubio was elected to be chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship for the 116th Congress last January, he made it his goal to modernize the SBA. Specifically, Rubio was wanted to focus on the re-authorization of the Small Business Act which was passed in 2000.

The climate for small businesses has changed significantly, both globally and domestically, since the Small Business Act was passed. In 2000, only 37% of U.S. households had internet access (most of which was dial-up) and the iPhone had not yet been invented. Today, the internet and smartphones play an integral role in business. Therefore, the Senate Committee on Small Business feels it is important that we have programs in place that are working well for today’s small business entrepreneurial needs.

Over the past year, Senator Rubio and ranking member Ben Cardin went through an aggressive re-authorization process to address the changing needs of U.S. small businesses. The re-authorization process involved 8 hearings with 53 expert witnesses who testified about the SBA’s programs. As a result of the feedback the committee received, they were able to release a draft of a 400-page re-authorization bill in July 2019. The bill, if passed, would effectively reauthorize the Small Business Act and the Small Business Investment Act. However, the bill has not yet been passed and is currently pending changes to gain bipartisan approval.

The Senate Committee hopes to resolve issues with the bill this year and get it passed as quickly as possible. However, during an election year, passing a re-authorization bill may prove to be more difficult than it would have been in 2019.