Lawmakers say innovation, trade rules key to small business gains
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle say Washington has a key role to play in helping small businesses by encouraging innovation and improving the rules for competition in a global economy.
Rep. Young Kim (R-Calif.), speaking at The Hill’s “Small Business Summit,” said the Paycheck Protection Program and other support measures have provided critical aid to small businesses during the pandemic, but argued that “throwing money” at problems will only prolong the nation’s rising debt.
“We just cannot just afford to pass a blank check that allows Democrats to saddle future American generations with debt by raising the debt limit,” Kim told The Hill’s Steve Clemons.
The House on Tuesday passed a short-term spending bill, coupled with a measure to suspend the debt limit, on a party-line vote of 220-211. Senate Republicans, who voted to suspend the debt ceiling during the Trump administration, have said they will not do so this time around.
Kim said a better approach is to focus on existing pandemic-era programs despite some problems during the rollout phase.
“Small businesses have come to me and told me they were the lifeline of these businesses to keep their doors open, keep their employees on their payroll,” she told Clemons.
Kim acknowledged that some of the pandemic-era programs have caused distribution challenges, which the committee is now working to address.
“Many of these programs were created so quickly during the pandemic, and the [Small Business Administration] saw an unprecedented number of loan applicants,” she said. “There were difficulties in processing those.”
Kim, the ranking member of the House Small Business subcommittee on workforce development and a former small business owner, said Congress has come together in an “efficient” way to provide aid to struggling businesses and must continue encouraging companies to innovate.
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), the chair of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, said at Thursday’s event that the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package and the $1.2 trillion Senate-passed infrastructure bill include a “significant” amount of investment that will improve small businesses’ standing.
Cardin argued that federal funding for paid family medical leave and affordable child care in the reconciliation package would make returning to the workforce more desirable as businesses face recent labor shortages.
“We do think that there is real economic opportunity for American small businesses in both the bipartisan infrastructure bill as well as the Build Back Better budget,” Cardin said at the event sponsored by Alibaba.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has called for a Monday vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill, but she faces fierce opposition from progressives who say they won’t vote for the measure without a vote on the reconciliation bill first.
Cardin said small businesses’ success also relies in part on China “playing by fair rules,” including stopping intellectual property theft and intimidation tactics. The Maryland Democrat said he raised those concerns with European allies and the director-general of the World Trade Organization this week.
“It’s not just small businesses,” Cardin said. “Our companies are having a challenging time competing on an unlevel playing field with the way China is conducting its commerce.”