(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship members Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.), along with Committee Chair Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) today re-introduced bipartisan legislation to help increase support to female entrepreneurs and women-owned businesses. The Interagency Committee on Women’s Business Enterprise Act would reauthorize the Interagency Committee for Women’s Business Enterprise (ICWBE) to help coordinate federal resources to encourage the formation, growth and success of women-owned businesses. U.S. Representative Grace Meng (D-NY-06) today introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“As we work to recover from the economic impacts of COVID-19, we should be doing everything we can to help businesses grow and create jobs in their communities, especially women-owned businesses,” said Duckworth. “I’m proud that we’ve come together in a bipartisan manner to introduce this legislation, which would help level the playing field for women entrepreneurs and business owners by making sure they have access to resources across federal agencies. It would also make sure the federal government shares and implements best practices so women can start and expand their businesses and keep contributing to our economy.”

“After we passed historic tax cuts in 2017, women across the country made significant strides in the workforce: record-low unemployment, rising wages, and an increasing number of women-owned businesses,” said Senator Scott. “While the pandemic recession created many painful challenges for people across the country, new business creation was at a record high last year. We know that a healthy recovery depends on the ability of entrepreneurs to flourish, so we must remain focused on building on that momentum. I’m proud to once again lead on this bipartisan bill, which will encourage the success of women-owned businesses that are crucial to our economy.”

“In the years leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic, women entrepreneurs were key drivers of new business formation despite the barriers they face on the path to business ownership,” said Cardin. “President Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reshape our national economy, so I am proud to co-sponsor this bill to coordinate the federal agencies’ efforts to support women entrepreneurs to unleash their growth potential and create jobs.”

“Small businesses are the foundation of our nation’s economy, creating good-paying jobs in communities across the country.  As we emerge from the public health and economic crisis caused by the pandemic, they need our support more than ever,” said Collins. “Our bipartisan bill would reauthorize the Interagency Committee on Women’s Business Enterprise, which supports women-owned businesses and women entrepreneurs by providing them with the information and resources they need to succeed.”

“It is imperative that we do everything possible to help our small businesses rebound from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, and that includes women-owned businesses,” said Meng. “Helping women business owners succeed and thrive is a ticket to helping ensure a strong economy as well as creating jobs and spurring innovation, and our bipartisan legislation would make sure that women entrepreneurs can access the critical government resources they need to help them start, grow, and sustain their businesses. Our government must be there to help our women-owned businesses, especially as we work to put COVID-19 in the rearview mirror, and I thank Senators Duckworth and Scott for partnering with me on this crucial bill. I look forward to the measure moving through the House and Senate.”

The ICWBE was established in 1979 and its work was critical to the efforts of several federal agencies and departments to develop policies to assist women business owners. The Interagency Committee was maintained through both Democratic and Republican administrations, but has been inactive since 2000 with no chairperson to operate it. The efforts to better coordinate federal resources are critical to make sure that women entrepreneurs receive the assistance they need to help start and grow their business enterprise.

The Interagency Committee on Women’s Business Enterprise Act would amend Title IV of the Women’s Business Ownership Act to reauthorize the interagency committee by making sure a chairperson is appointed to operate the committee, which would help increase the ability of the federal government to provide targeted assistance to women entrepreneurs as they seek to start and grow their businesses. It would also update the agencies and departments that would coordinate to make sure all resources are being used effectively. This bill would update the interagency mission to identify the barriers women business owners and women entrepreneurs face in starting and growing their businesses.

This legislation is supported by Womens Veterans Business Coalition (WVBC), Small Business Majority, Center for American Entrepreneurship, Women Construction Owners and Executives (WCOEUSA), National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), California Association for Micro Enterprise Opportunity (CAMEO), GovEvolve, HUBZone Contractors National Council and the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce (MCCC).

“Congress is considering a major infrastructure package which could provide federal contracting opportunities for women-owned businesses,” said Theresa Kern, Director of the Chicago Women Construction Owners and Executives (WCOE) Board of Governors. This is the perfect time to revive the ICWBE. “This bill would ensure that the agencies work together to proactively and efficiently provide important resources to the WOSBs that have faced discrimination or been overlooked in the federal contracting process, as well as in the private market.”