H.R. 1425, Creating Jobs Through Small Business Innovation Act of 2011
Opening Statement By Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson
Thank you, Chairman Hall. Today, we are marking up H.R. 1425, the Creating Jobs Through Small Business Innovation Act of 2011. I am pleased to join you, Chairman Hall, as an original cosponsor of this important legislation to reauthorize the SBIR and STTR programs.
I would also like to thank Mr. Wu for his work on this bill. No one in Congress is more committed to the SBIR and STTR programs than Mr. Wu. His tireless efforts in support of these programs and in getting this reauthorization bill enacted is to be admired and respected. Thank you for all that you have done to get us to this point, Mr. Wu.
Mr. Chairman, this is a good piece of legislation. I am confident that the bill we have before us today is a better bill because it benefited from bipartisan input in its development.
We all recognize the important role that small businesses play in fueling technological innovation and creating jobs in the United States. That being the case, we should be doing what we can to foster a vibrant small business community and give our small businesses the tools that they need to succeed. The SBIR and STTR programs are such tools - they have been critically important programs for fostering innovation by small businesses.
As we continue our efforts to keep our economy on the path to recovery, it is more important than ever that we recommit ourselves to these programs and get a comprehensive reauthorization bill enacted.
As I’ve noted, I support this bill. It includes many good provisions that I believe are necessary and important, and that will make the SBIR and STTR programs more efficient and effective.
The bill also takes great strides to modernize the programs, making them more responsive to the ever-changing high-tech sector and the demands of the global economy.
That being said, there is definitely room for improvement. For example, this bill fails to include any formal outreach program for women and minority-owned small businesses. This is despite the fact that increasing participation is one of the stated goals of the program, and one for which the National Academies found a decidedly mixed track record.
It is irresponsible of us to ignore this issue. The bill should include a meaningful provision that will give the agencies the tools and resources they need to conduct the outreach and technical assistance that is necessary to meet this challenge.
I will be offering an amendment – along with Congresswoman Wilson – later this morning to rectify this situation and I hope that it will be accepted.
I know that some of our colleagues have other good amendments to strengthen and improve the bill, and I hope that they will be supported.
Thank you again, Mr. Chairman. I look forward to working with you to get this bill to the House floor as soon as possible. And I yield back the balance of my time.