WIPP Policy Briefing Week of November 12, 2014
Monday, November 17, 2014
WIPP Policy Briefing
Week of November 12, 2014
Midterm Elections: Mostly Red With a Few Blue Dots
Election night was a big win for Republicans across the
country as the GOP took control of the Senate, increased their substantial
majority in the House, as well as captured governorships and state legislatures
in regions typically controlled by Democrats. With one race still outstanding
in Louisiana, the new Senate, taking office in January 2015, will have 52
Republicans, 45 Democrats, and 2 Independents.
The night also brought a few firsts for American politics.
For the first time ever, there are 100 women in the Congress, including the
first Black female Republican, Mia Love who was elected as a Representative
from Utah. The first Black Republican Senator from the South since
Reconstruction, Tim Scott, was elected in South Carolina.
Senate Democrats elevated Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), widely
thought to be the link to Progressives in the Democratic Party, to the new
position of Strategic Policy Adviser. When the 114th Congress convenes in
January, Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will be Majority Leader, as Republicans
took control of the Senate. Conversely, current Majority Leader Harry Reid
(D-NV), maintained his top position with Democrats in the Senate and was
elected to Minority Leader.
In the House, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) was re-elected to
lead the GOP (Democrats are likely to re-elect Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) this week as
Minority Leader in the House). Committee Chairs will be decided in January.
What does it all mean for WIPP’s policy agenda? WIPP
Chief Advocate Ann Sullivan gives her take on the election in this month’s WIPP Works in Washington. Looking for a short visual on the election? Take
a look at this one pager.
It’s The 113th Lame-Duck.
The "Lame Duck” period, the few weeks after an election and
before a new Congress, is officially underway. Always short, and typically
reserved for must-pass pieces of legislation, the current Congress has a number
of issues to address before leaving Washington for the final time in December.
The top two items are funding the government and passing the annual Defense
Authorization bill (NDAA) for FY2015, a major part of WIPP’s advocacy efforts
for sole source authority (more below). There is pressure on Congress to also
consider the 55 expired tax provisions. Finally, although the Senate will not consider
major nominations, including Loretta Lynn for Attorney General, small business
advocates hope the President’s nominee to lead the SBA’s Office of Advocacy,
Gilberto De Jesus, will be added before departing.
FY2015 Funding Current funding for the federal government expires on December
11th, requiring Congress to act. The newly empowered Senate Republicans are
debating whether to pass a short term funding extension to last until the next
Congress or an "omnibus” package to cover the rest of the fiscal year. Current
Appropriations Chairs Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY) and Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)
are working behind the scenes to complete the omnibus bill. It remains to be
seen if the duo can build the necessary support or if Congress will instead
pass another short-term Continuing Resolution (CR) and take up spending in the
new Congress. Wrapped up in the omnibus are new funding directives for
agencies, including SBA, as well as possible changes to the Microloan Program.
A CR, on the other hand, would simply extend current spending levels and make
no changes to current programs.
NDAA Negotiations The annual Defense spending bill has
been successfully passed every year for more than five decades. Currently,
House and Senate negotiators are trying to extend the streak. Beyond decisions
on major weapons and defense projects, the bill (H.R. 4435 / S. 2410) could make contracting changes for small businesses, including
sole source authority in the WOSB Procurement Program (more below).
Tax Extenders Many small business tax provisions
expired at the end of 2013, but were expected to be extended during 2014. So
far, the House and Senate have not agreed on what should be in an "Extenders
Package.” There is some hope, and encouragement from the IRS, to complete these
changes before 2015 so as not be a headache for business owners waiting to file
Nominees Unclear at this time is whether the
Congress will take up President Obama’s nominee to serve as Chief Counsel of
the SBA’s Office of Advocacy, Gilberto De Jesus. The Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship will
consider his nomination at a hearing later this week, which WIPP will be
attending. WIPP supports his nomination.
Adoption of Sole Source Authority
As mentioned above, the House and Senate are finalizing
differences in the NDAA. The House version included language to add sole source
authority in the WOSB Procurement Program, while the Senate version did not.
While the negotiations continue, WIPP continues to lead a coalition of
advocates in support of the change.
In addition, leaders in the Senate as well as in the
Administration expressed their support of sole source authority. As the bill is
debated through November and December, the outcome for the sole source effort
will remain a top priority for WIPP and its allies.