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Committee Business Meeting

July 29, 2015 9:30 AM

428A Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 9:30am EST

Chairman David Vitter

Good morning. The Committee will come to order so that we can proceed with today’s business meeting. We will be doing a markup of several important bills and amendments that have bipartisan support. Included in today’s agenda are three bills improving opportunities for veterans’ small business ownership, a bill to improve small business energy efficiency practices, and a bill to reform microloan opportunities. We will also be addressing a resolution of the Committee to recommend the passage of S. 1827, the “Small Business Tax Compliance Relief Act of 2015.”

Our veterans continue serving their communities long after they leave active duty. In the past two years alone, over 360,000 service members have separated from the armed forces, and there will be over 1 million service members transitioning out of the military over the next five years. With over 2.4 million businesses majority-owned by veterans, veteran entrepreneurs and small business owners are significant, vital contributors to our local and national economies, providing over $1.2 trillion to our economy each year and employing over 5.7 million workers. Through the Committee’s June 25, 2015 hearing titled, “Opening Doors to Economic Opportunity for Our Veterans and Their Families through Entrepreneurship,” we heard from veteran small business owners and agency representatives to explore how we may improve the technical assistance programs available to assist transitioning service members and veterans looking to start or expand businesses, as well as other challenges including access to capital, energy efficiency, program oversight, and additional outreach initiatives.

Today we will be considering multiple pieces of legislation aimed at mitigating the challenges we’ve heard from small businesses. S. 1400, “Veterans Small Business Enhancement Act of 2015,” will enable veteran-owned small businesses access to federal surplus property, alleviating the cost to the taxpayers to dispose of such useful property as office equipment, computers, tools, and construction equipment. S. 1866, “Veterans Small Business Ownership Improvements Act of 2015,” authorizes four veterans’ entrepreneurship development programs under the Small Business Administration (SBA) that serve as valuable resources for technical assistance, understanding financing options, and networking for veteran entrepreneurs or established small business owners. This bill ensures the necessary oversight and ease of access to information to ensure the highest quality services and opportunities for success. S. 1870, “Veterans Entrepreneurial Transition Act of 2015,” creates a pilot program that examines the use of G.I. Bill education grants to open opportunities to gain the necessary knowledge and technical skills required to successfully start and own a business. Additional legislation for consideration includes S. 1756, “Small Business Energy Efficiency Act,” which allows for the SBA’s 504 lending program to provide support to small businesses looking to invest in their companies through energy efficiency projects; and S. 1857, “Microloan Modernization Act of 2015,” which will allow for greater flexibility for microloan intermediaries to meet the needs of their borrowers.

Additionally, we will be considering a resolution that it is the sense of the Committee to recommend the passage of S. 1827, the “Small Business Tax Compliance Relief Act of 2015.” Based on hearings and roundtables, small businesses have conveyed to me how much of an issue tax compliance has become. According to a National Small Business Association survey that I quoted at the July 22, 2015 hearing on “Targeted Tax Reform,” the administrative burden of tax compliance alone is now a greater strain on small businesses than their actual tax liability. Simply put, small business owners are losing time, money, and resources navigating the intricacies of the tax code and spend an oversized portion of their time complying focused on tax compliance. While there will be disagreement among us on how to go about wholesale tax reform, we can all recognize the compliance burden is out of hand and that it should be addressed.

Consequently, this resolution identifies common sense bipartisan solutions to provide immediate relief to our country’s small businesses. The bill introduced last Wednesday, S. 1827 the “Small Business Tax Compliance Relief Act of 2015,” has received support from across the country, ranging from national groups to state chambers of commerce among others. Senator Shaheen and I have been able to come together on this issue and work to offer this resolution providing valuable contributions from both sides of the aisle. This includes provisions that will help small businesses dramatically reduce their accounting costs and better navigate federal tax compliance on our way to removing that burden altogether. We have been able to put together a resolution both sides agree on which would provide relief for small businesses all across the country. I urge all of my colleagues to support these bipartisan issues.