Washington Updates as it Relates to Women Entrepreneurs
House Appropriations Vote Expected Next Week
In advance of Floor consideration, the House Appropriations Committee released summaries of six Appropriations bills expected to be considered in the House next week. Of the six bills being considered, the WBC program lives within the Financial Services and General Government. This legislation outlines $30 million for Women’s Business Centers, a $4 million increase from last year’s allocation. Full text and Committee reports are available here.
Reproductive Rights Task Force Formed
Due to recent events, the Justice Department is creating a Reproductive Rights Task Force. The Task Force formalizes an existing working group and efforts by the Department over the last several months to identify ways to protect access to reproductive health care. The Task Force will monitor and evaluate all state and local legislation and enforcement actions that threaten to:
- Infringe on federal legal protections relating to the provision or pursuit of reproductive care;
- Impair women’s ability to seek reproductive care in states where it is legal;
- Impair individuals’ ability to inform and counsel each other about the reproductive care that is available in other states;
- Ban Mifepristone based on disagreement with the FDA’s expert judgment about its safety and efficacy; or
- Impose criminal or civil liability on federal employees who provide reproductive health services in a manner authorized by federal law.
Small Business Subcommittee Hearing on the SBA HUBZone Program
The House Committee on Small Business’s Subcommittee on Contracting and Infrastructure’s hearing titled, “A Review and Assessment of the SBA HUBZone program,” which discussed the Small Business Administration’s Historically Underutilized Business Zone program that is intended to help small businesses in areas across the country in economic distress. Concerns were raised around its impact reaching the 3% requirement of federal prime contracts and subcontracts awarded to these businesses, the program’s effectiveness, and how Congress could look to reform the program to best serve small businesses to attract more participants and assist those in socioeconomically disadvantaged areas.
Small Business Fintech Hearing
The House Small Business Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Regulations held a hearing on “Fintech and Transparency in Small Business Lending,” which saw a wide variety of perspectives of regulations, transparency, and predatory practices in small business lending, specifically concerning fintech companies misreporting and unfair practices. Topics discussed included fintech regulation being incorporated in small business lending, certain actors abusing the system with no repercussions, and more. The consensus from subcommittee members was that these practices were unfair to small businesses seeking capital, and capital is one of small business’s greatest needs.
Hearing Activity Addressing Women’s Health
In response to the Supreme Court’s ruling on Roe v. Wade, Congress has held the following hearings this month:
- Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on “A Post-Roe America: The Legal Consequences of the Dobbs Decision.”
- Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing on “Reproductive Care in a Post-Roe America: Barriers, Challenges, and Threats to Women’s Health.”
- House Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing on “The Impact of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs Decision on Abortion Rights and Access Across the United States.”
- House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on “What’s Next: The Threat to Individual Freedoms in a Post-Roe World.”
State of Play in Washington
CHIPS Provision Pulled out of USICA/COMPETES
With 3 weeks left until August recess, and Congress at a standstill on smoothing out differences between the Senate United States Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) and the House COMPETES Act, Senate leadership has altered their strategy, focusing on passing a $52 billion funding package for semiconductor manufacturers in place of a broader USICA package (a key component of both USICA and COMPETES). The Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) Act could also include investment tax credits for semiconductor manufacturing, according to Secretary of Commerce, Gina Raimondo, who met with lawmakers on Wednesday.
A Possible Fourth Interest Rate Raise?
In response to a recent Consumer Price Index report, indicating a 9.1% annual increase in inflation, surveys have revealed that the Federal Reserve may raise interest rates by an entire percentage point. The Federal Reserve has raised interest rates this year by .25%, .50%, and .75% in March, May, and June, respectively. A whole percentage point increase would be a historic move by the Federal Reserve, the largest in over two decades.
Inflation Rate Impacts Reconciliation
Reacting to the recent inflation rate news, Senator Joe Manchin (WV) expressed heightened hesitation about supporting a reconciliation package that would contribute to the inflation rate. The one thing Senator Manchin does seem keen to pass: a Medicare prescription drug bill that would also increase premium subsidies in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). While other Democrats are optimistic about passing a more comprehensive reconciliation package, it is growing ever more likely that a Medicare-focused reconciliation package will be the end result.
House Committee on Financial Services CRA Hearing
Yesterday morning the Financial Services Committee held a hearing titled “Better Together: Examining the Unified Proposed Rule to Modernize the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA)” Members investigated the relationship between the historical practice of redlining, the digitalization of the banking system, and the recent developments of the CRA. Witnesses discussed the importance of reinvesting bank funding into low and moderate income communities, and the standards of receiving CRA credit.
As Reconciliation talks continue, House Democrats from the northeast are threatening to oppose the package if the state and local tax (SALT) deduction cap isn’t lifted in the new version. Currently, the SALT deduction is limited to $10,000, but there is an agreement among House Democrats to raise the cap to $80,000. The Senate has not expressed any appetite for inclusion of SALT provisions, but the Reconciliation package will have issues getting through the House if this is not included.
Last year’s Build Back Better Act (reconciliation package) takes another run on the course, weighing in at only $1 trillion (roughly $0.7 trillion less than last year’s bill). Negotiators, chiefly Senator Manchin and Senator Schumer, continue their talks in search of a palatable deal in spite of rising inflation, federal deficit concerns, taxes, drug pricing battles, and climate-related provisions.
While this legislation has remained the primary promise of the Biden administration, with very little legislative days left in the year, it is unclear if Congress can come to an agreement on its provisions, especially as members gear up to retain voters or shift power structures in their chambers this November.
EDA’s Economic Recovery Corps Grant Opportunity
EDA is currently seeking a Network Operator (an organization or coalition) to build, launch, and operate the Economic Recovery Corps program, which will embed Fellows in local economic development organizations across the country. This program will fund a Network Operator to recruit and place at least 50 Fellows (not recruited by EDA) in economic development organizations in underserved communities throughout the nation that will provide technical assistance, enabling underserved communities to better access funding and participate in economic development initiatives through preparation, training, and implementation support.
Both the Network Operator and Fellows will generate and share knowledge and insights across local economies to accelerate the adoption of equitable economic development practices. A Network Operator will work collaboratively with EDA in a 5-year cooperative agreement. The award—ranging from $20 million to $25 million—will be allocated by September 30, 2022. The deadline to apply is August 5, 2022, additional resources can be found here:
- Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO)
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Economic Recovery Corps One Pager (PDF)
- Milestone, Budget, & Staffing Plan Template (XLSX)
- Economic Recovery Corps Program Overview Webinar
- Slides (PDF)
EDA’s Equity Impact Investments Grant Opportunity
This program aims to provide capacity, knowledge and technical assistance to organizations that serve underrepresented populations. The program seeks to build a coalition of these organizations to enhance and sustain their participation and engagement in various economic development initiatives, while also creating opportunities for EDA projects to better serve underserved populations and communities, such as urban cores, women, people of color and any group that has been historically underserved. EDA is seeking applications to bring together a coalition of organizations with a proven track record of effectively working with, conducting outreach to and delivering outcomes for these communities.
Funding for the program is between $3 million and $10 million and will be dependent on reach, impact and number of grants awarded. Ideal budget requests per grant is between $3 million to $6 million. The award will be made by September 30, 2022. The deadline to apply is August 5, 2022, additional resources can be found here:
- Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)
- Potential Coalition Organizations (PDF)
- Equity Impact Investments Webinar
- Slides (PDF)
Days Until Midterm Elections: 115 Days
By Ashlyn Roberts, PRISM Group