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What Washington Has in Store for Women Entrepreneurs
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By Ann Sullivan, WIPP Chief Advocate

Had I written this article a few days ago, it would have been obsolete. I would have told you that Congress was poised for a major fight over raising the debt ceiling and funding for Hurricane Harvey recovery was uncertain. Things change.

In a refreshing bipartisan move, President Trump reached out to Democrats to secure a three- month deal to raise the debt ceiling, fund the government on a continuing basis and provide recovery funds for Hurricane Harvey. This deal avoids the panic in the markets over defaulting on the debt and a potential government shutdown.

Why did Trump deal with the Democrats? Because the Freedom Caucus in the House was poised to fight raising the debt ceiling unless significant discretionary spending cuts were enacted. Trump needed Democratic votes to move much of anything in the House. If my math is correct, the 194 House Democrats plus 24 Republicans in the House cobbles together a majority that can pass the deal. In the Senate, Trump needed Democrats in order to pass this package, including Hurricane recovery funding to the tune of $15.25 billion for hurricane damage.

Although hurricane funding to some extent was going to pass, the House Republicans were opposed to tying the debt ceiling to the Harvey relief bill. With respect to keeping the government funded past the Sept. 30 deadline (the fiscal year ends), House Republicans had plans to send the Senate a comprehensive spending bill for FY18, also known as an omnibus bill. Trump, however, had other plans.

As I was drafting this article, the Senate included an extension of federal flood insurance to the package and passed the Trump deal in lightning speed. Now the House needs to act before sending the bill to the president. In addition, the House Republican Study Committee consisting of more than 150 Republicans announced their opposition to the Senate bill complicating the final House vote. Important to note is that this is only a three-month deal, setting in motion another go-round in December with respect to lifting the debt ceiling and funding the government for FY18.

WIPP is watching these developments with an eye toward its effect on women business owners. If you are a government contractor, your customers are following this debate closely—and so should you. Even if you are not a government contractor, paying close attention to the market’s reaction to the debate can affect your wallet and your investments.

Aside from the fiscal deliberations, expect to see a focus on tax reform. Tax reform remains a top priority for the Trump Administration and the Congress this fall. President Trump has engaged members of both parties to spur action on this important agenda item. From working with the Kogod Tax Policy Center at American University to examine the tax benefits women business owners leave on the table, to WIPP member Rebecca Boenigk’s testimony urging tax reform for pass-through entities as well as corporate entities, to op-eds from WIPP members nationwide urging action, WIPP is at the forefront of advocating for a tax code that works for women entrepreneurs. In addition, WIPP submitted comments to the Senate Finance Committee in July, which can be read here.

Other legislation that might be considered is infrastructure improvements and funding, reinstatement of the DACA program that expires in six months and the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which is important to federal contractors. With respect to small business legislation, expect changes to the HUBZone program and a government study on the participation of women in multiple award contracts—the impetus of which was a study released by WIPP titled, “Do Not Enter: Women Shut Out of U.S. Government’s Biggest Contracts.”

This is an exciting time in Washington. The Congress is busy as is the president. We welcome major legislation that will have an impact on business owners, such as tax reform and infrastructure improvements. In addition, we have a strong advocate at the helm of the SBA, Administrator Linda McMahon, and look forward to Senate approval of Emily Murphy as Administrator of the GSA. These strong, capable women have earned our support.

Last but not least, the WIPP conference is just around the corner. I hope to see all of you at there– we need all your voices and all your advocacy as we work to ensure women entrepreneurs are represented in the nation’s capital.

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