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Business Meeting

June 3, 2015 10:00 AM

428A Russell Senate Office Building 10:00am 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 voting on:

• The nomination of Douglas J. Kramer of Kansas to be Deputy Administrator of the Small Business Administration;

• Bipartisan legislation to help small businesses and individuals recover after natural disasters; and

• A Resolution expressing the sense of this Committee that the Waters of the United States rule recently finalized by the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers will have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

One of the two bills we are considering is the Recovery Improvements for Small Entities After Disaster Act of 2015 – or RISE After Disaster Act – which I introduced on Monday, the first day of the 2015 Hurricane Season. After Hurricane Katrina struck Louisiana ten years ago this August, we learned the hard way what worked and didn’t work as we toiled through years of recovery. The RISE After Disaster Act reflects a number of things that we learned, and will help future disaster victims recover more quickly, and with less red tape from the federal government.

I want to briefly highlight a few important provisions in the bill.

• First, it provides long-term recovery loans to small businesses through community banks when SBA disaster assistance is no longer available.

• It directs federal agencies to utilize local contractors for response and recovery efforts rather than government contractors from Washington, DC and other areas.

• It provides incentives for innovative firms doing research & development to stay in the disaster-affected area rather than move elsewhere.

• The bill fast-tracks applications to operate Small Business Investment Company funds in order to drive private investment into disaster-affected areas.

• It also enables SBA disaster loans to be used to construct “Safe Rooms” to save lives during tornadoes.

• And finally, it reduces excessive paperwork burdens on disaster victims.

Taken together with the other bill we are voting on today, the HUBZone Revitalization Act, which will extend HUBZone status to qualified businesses in disaster-affected areas, this Committee is working in a bipartisan way to make sure that our local businesses have the tools they need when major disasters strike.

Another issue we will take up today is a Resolution I am introducing that addresses the now-final Waters of the United States rule. The Committee held a hearing on May 19 that examined the decision by the EPA and Army Corps to shut out small businesses from the rulemaking process for the so-called WOTUS rule by certifying that the rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. This decision not only disregards the law, but defies all logic given the overwhelming evidence that the rule will drastically expand the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act to subject landowners, including small businesses, to increased costs that make it harder for them to succeed.

At the hearing, a home builder from Louisiana and a farmer from Iowa testified about the fears they share and obstacles they will face in dealing with the WOTUS rule. The Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy testified that the WOTUS rule will “have direct, significant effects on small businesses.” It recommended the agencies withdraw the-then proposed rule and conduct a Small Business Advocacy Review panel. Despite these concerns, the EPA and the Army Corps went forward with finalizing the WOTUS rule last week.

The Resolution I am introducing today fully mirrors the opinions of the Office of Advocacy, and reflects the concerns of the small business community that EPA and the Army Corps failed to properly consider small businesses in drafting the WOTUS rule. I encourage you all to support this Resolution.


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