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WIPP Policy Briefing Week of November 12, 2014

Monday, November 17, 2014  
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WIPP Policy Briefing

Week of November 12, 2014

The 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.  

Quack, Quack! 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 their taxes.  

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.

Waiting on 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.

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