WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the House Committee on Small Business is holding its first markup of the 117th Congress on the budget reconciliation.
Ranking Member Blaine Luetkemeyer's opening statement as prepared for delivery:
Thank you, Madam Chair. Our nation’s small businesses are hurting. They are bearing the brunt of COVID-19. This pandemic has presented challenges unlike anything they have witnessed in the past.
Despite these circumstances, our nation’s job creators have tried their best to move forward. They have innovated, reinvented their offerings, and worked tirelessly to meet the needs of their customers. I praise each and every business from the Main Streets in my home state of Missouri to the Chair’s state of New York and beyond.
It is important to note that we have data to show that if a state opens quickly and in a responsible way, small businesses can safely operate in an environment that allows them to serve their customers. My state of Missouri did this back in May 2020, and we have seen the extensive benefits this has provided.
Although our small businesses are comprised of some of the most innovative and agile employers and employees, ever-changing capacity restrictions and COVID-19 shutdown measures instituted by state and local governments have put their livelihoods and their employees in jeopardy. Instead of allowing them to meet safety measures, some of the nation’s smallest businesses have been forced to turn off their lights and close their doors. In many circumstances, these states never even provided small businesses with the chance to survive.
Due to COVID and these overreaching shutdown measures, small businesses, entrepreneurs, and startups continue to face severe financial hardships. As a response, the federal government responded quickly and efficiently in March of last year by setting up numerous programs such as the Paycheck Protection Program, also known as the PPP.
By partnering with private lenders, PPP funding was delivered quickly to small business owners. With a focus on payroll, the assistance was intended to ensure small businesses could pay their workers during these unprecedented times. Through data from the Small Business Administration, we know this program has assisted or saved millions of small businesses and tens of millions of jobs.
Until now, all COVID relief packages have been bipartisan – meaning they have been supported by both Republicans and Democrats. Understanding the magnitude of the situation, we worked across the aisle, compromised, and created solutions that worked for our nation’s small businesses.
However, today, we find ourselves at a Committee on Small Business markup where our side has been blocked from engaging on the proposed legislation, as topics of such importance were drafted without our thoughts or ideas.
This is a shame and a disgrace. I would like to remind my colleagues on the other side, that prior to COVID-19, small businesses were projecting confidence, optimism, and job creation all around. And pro-growth policies resulted in historic unemployment levels across the board. By focusing on a smart regulatory environment combined with lower taxes, small businesses had the economic freedom and the economic opportunity to innovate and expand.
Unfortunately, it seems we are now moving in the opposite direction. Not only with this latest COVID package and the haphazard discussion surrounding raising the minimum wage, but also with the recent administrative action overhaul taken by the President. From eliminating good-paying jobs with his executive order on the Keystone Pipeline to refusing to police regulatory burdens, small businesses will be facing new challenges beyond COVID.
Small businesses are in a precarious position. Any added mandates will be counterproductive.
With that, I look forward to actually having a discussion, and our first input, on the proposed legislation before us today. I know Committee Republicans have valuable ideas, and I hope they are seriously considered by my colleagues.
Thank you, Madam Chair, and I yield back.