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Friday, April 18, 2008

Just in Time for Small Business Week, Congresswoman Velazquez Hands Venture Capital Firms a Billion Dollar Gift

Yesterday, in yet another move in a long line of disappointments, Chair of the House Committee on Small Business, Representative Velazquez (D-NY) introduced a new bill, H.R. 5819, the “SBIR/STTR Reauthorization Act,” which will open up federal small business programs to allow venture capital firms access to billions of dollars in federal money that is meant for small businesses.

On the eve of Small Business Week, which is next week, Chairwoman Velazquez has successfully handed venture capital firms a gift that will amount to billions of dollars. Unfortunately, this gift will come at the cost of legitimate small businesses that will now have to compete against billionaires venture capital firms for valuable SBIR money.

Last year, Velazquez pushed through H.R. 3567, the “Small Business Investment Expansion Act,” which contained almost verbatim the same provision as Title II of H.R. 5819. The ASBL led the successful opposition to H.R. 3567 and was joined by the White House, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, NFIB, and numerous other small business groups and was able to stop H.R. 3567 in the Senate.

This makes me wonder why the Chair of the House Committee on Small Business keeps introducing legislation that will effectively harm small businesses while allowing venture capital firms access to billions of dollars in federal small business money. For the second time in less than a year, Velazquez has stated publicly that the National Venture Capital Association, a group that has supported her by funding her re-election campaigns, supports both H.R. 5819 and H.R. 3567. Question answered.

Now to add insult to injury, it has just been announced that President Bush will appoint SBA Administrator, Steve Preston to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). While HUD has been mired in scandals under former Secretary Jackson, Preston’s appointment seems to fall in line with previous appointments made by Bush, where the prime qualification seems to be loyalty over competence- does anyone remember “Brownie, you’re doin’ a heck of a job?”

Preston took over as Administrator of the SBA in 2006, and since then he has presided over a 100 billion dollar giveaway in small business contracts to some of the largest firms in the United States and Europe.

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