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House Passes Small Business Contracting Legislation

On May 10, the House passed, 409-13, the Small Business Fairness in Contracting Act (H.R. 1873). The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee approved the measure, by voice vote, on May 1 (see The Source, 5/4/07). The House Small Business Committee approved the bill, by voice vote, on April 24. Prior to the final vote on H.R. 1873, Rep. Phil English (R-PA) offered a motion to recommit the bill with instructions to add language that would require the Small Business Administration (SBA) to consider small businesses economically disadvantaged if they demonstrate that they have been adversely affected by the expiration of small business tax incentives. The motion failed, 209-216.

Sponsored by Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA), H.R. 1873 would limit federal agencies’ ability to bundle two or more small contracts into one large contract, thus increasing small business access to federal government contracts; increase participation by small businesses in federal procurement and service contracts; and require the Small Business administrator to contact registered small businesses regarding potential federal contracting opportunities.

During consideration of the bill, the House adopted the following amendments by voice vote:

  • an amendment by Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-TX) that would require the General Services Administration to track companies’ compliance with small business subcontracting plans, specifically relating to women-owned businesses, historically black and minority colleges, and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses; and
  • an amendment by Rep. Albert Wynn (D-MD) to require the SBA to complete a study on the feasibility of providing financial incentives to prime contractors who utilize small businesses owned by economically or socially disadvantaged individuals.The House also approved the following amendments:
  • an amendment by Reps. Melissa Bean (D-IL) and Steve Chabot (R-OH) to raise the government’s procurement goal from 23 to 30 percent, 371-55. The underlying bill would increase the goal to 25 percent; and
  • an amendment by Reps. Joe Sestak (D-PA) and Chabot to exempt general contracts of less than $1.5 million from the contract bundling requirements in the original bill, 423-0.
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