House Passes FY2019 National Defense Authorization Act With Important Small Business Provisions

The House of Representatives passed the FY2019 National Defense Authorization Act by a vote of 351 to 66, prior to congressional recess. The annual defense spending measure would allow the Pentagon to spend $686 billion in the 2019 fiscal year. The legislation included important small business provisions:

Technical Assistance for Small Business: The Department of Defense (DOD) is directed to develop a small business strategy that would include a unified management structure for small business programs. DOD would also be responsible for outlining how they will engage in outreach and technical assistance to facilitate small business participation in defense programs.

Prompt Payment: The Department of Defense (DOD) is directed to accelerate payments to small business prime contractors and subcontractors, with the goal of making payment within 15 days of receiving an invoice.

Adjustments: Solicitations for small business contracts would have to include information about the agency’s policies and performance in responding to requests for compensation changes.

Expansion of Microloan Program: The loan limit in the SBA’s microloan program would be increased from $5 million to $6 million after a recipient’s first year of participation. The program allows intermediary lenders to provide loans for business development, as well as marketing, management, and technical assistance, to minority-owned or disadvantaged small businesses. Another change is the time allocation for technical assistance providers. Intermediaries could spend as much as 50% (instead of the current 25%) of their grant funds to provide information and technical assistance to prospective borrowers.

Increased Investment Limit for Small Business Investment Companies (SBICs): Banks and savings associations could invest as much as 15% of their capital and surplus in small business investment companies (SBICs) if approved by federal banking regulators. The limit is currently 5%. The maximum amount of leverage available to SBICs would be increased to $175 million from $150 million.

SBIR/STTR: Federal agencies are directed to set aside a share of their research budget for the Small Business Innovation Research program (SBIR). Agencies with larger research budgets must also set funds aside for the Small Business Technology Transfer program (STTR). This provision would allow federal agencies to use as much as 3% of reserved funds for program administration. It would also allow all agencies with SBIR programs in FY2018 through FY2022 to provide phase II grants, which focus on development and delivery of an innovation, regardless of whether a small business had first received a phase I grant for initial research.

Broadband & Information Technology: The SBA’s Office of Investment and Innovation is directed to designate an employee as the broadband and emerging information technology coordinator. They would be responsible for connecting small businesses with financing programs, and advising these businesses on how to acquire broadband and new information technology.

The Senate Armed Services Committee has approved their FY2019 legislation. The full Senate is expected to begin debate on the bill in the next week or two.

The Trump Administration Sends Request to Congress for Over $15 Billion of Spending Cuts for This Year

Using an obscure federal law, the White House sent a sweeping $15.4 billion rescission package to Congress which requests spending cuts this year across 10 federal departments.  This request comes from the Trump Administration in an effort to address the rising federal deficit.

Some programs in which cuts were requested include:

  • $50 million from the Rural Business-Cooperative Service (Department of Agriculture)
  • $30 million from the Economic Development Administration (Department of Commerce)
  • $4.3 billion from the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program (Department of Energy)
  • $683 million from the Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee Program (Department of Energy)
  • $800 million from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (Department of Health & Human Services)
  • $179.1 million from the Federal Highway Administration (Department of Transportation)
  • $53.4 million from the Federal Railroad Administration (Department of Transportation)
  • $46.5 million from the Federal Transit Administration (Department of Transportation)
  • $22.7 million from the Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) Fund (Department of Treasury)
  • $151 million from Capital Magnet Fund, Community Development Financial Institutions (Department of Treasury)

These cuts, if approved, could impact current government contracts depending on the agency. In addition, cuts to the CDFI Fund and the Capital Magnet Fund will have a big impact on lending to minority and women-owned businesses and those in economically disadvantaged areas.

The House Appropriations Committee has 25 days to address the request by crafting its own bill based on the White House recommendations or decide not to act.  After 25 days, other House members can introduce their own rescissions legislation. Congress must act within 45 days of the request, which was made on May 8th.  If the House passes a bill, it would be taken up next by the Senate. Rescissions bills require only a simple majority for passage.