congress

Members named to entrepreneurship and innovation committees in the 117th Congress

Editor’s notes. Feb. 18: We have updated the article to reflect assignments to key subcommittees in both the House and Senate. 

Nearly a month into the 117th Congress, formal committee assignments are being announced. The highest-priority committees for tech-based economic development policies are those affecting science and small business issues. The lists, below, provide a description of those committees in the Senate and House for the next two years.

Senate Commerce Committee

Changes coming to congressional science, small business committees

As of this writing, control of Congress remains officially undecided, although the end result will likely be status quo: Republican control of the Senate and Democratic control of the House. While the discourse and activity around major legislation may not change, there will be changes to the committees that most strongly impact science and small business legislation. The new members will not be determined until the next session, but multiple departures from these committees are already known.

Senate

House probes role of innovation in clean energy

A recent hearing by the House science committee provided several experts, including Lee Cheatham from SSTI-member Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, an opportunity to discuss the importance of science and innovation to achieving a “clean energy future.” Comments by the panelists largely focused on the value of public-private partnerships, such as those modeled through SBIR/STTR, prize competitions, and joint research at national labs, to develo

House committee creates plan for net zero emissions

The majority staff of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis released a “roadmap” this week for the U.S. to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 and net negative emissions through the rest of the century. The plan says these climate goals can be achieved while growing the economy and improving public health.

Congress passes changes to PPP

The House and Senate have both passed a bill that would alter the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program. Businesses will now have up to 24 weeks to use forgivable funds, instead of the original eight weeks. The portion of the costs that must be spent on payroll has been reduced from 75 percent to 60 percent. The bill also changes many of the original legislation’s hard deadlines from the end of June to Dec. 31.

Homework gap highlights digital divide as Congress considers more money for broadband

School buses across the country are helping school children as they finish a decidedly unconventional academic year but they aren’t transporting students, they are acting as mobile Wi-Fi units bringing connectivity capability to students who lack broadband service. As the coronavirus pandemic closed schools across the country, many in rural or low-income areas without internet access were left scrambling as classes went online. Equipping buses with Wi-Fi to help accommodate the online learning is a short-term solution to a much bigger problem.

A platform to support science and entrepreneurship through the pandemic and beyond

SSTI’s Innovation Advocacy Council has sent letters to congressional leadership outlining emergency actions needed to support tech- and innovation-driven businesses and recovery-focused programs to leverage American ingenuity for economic stimulus. The letters call for expanding SBA’s technical assistance to startups, leveraging EDA’s Build to Scale program, catalyzing new programs for equity investment and commercialization, and incorporating innovation into any infrastructure initiative.

Innovation on hold for 1-out-of-4 SBIR winners

Federal agencies fail, on average, 24 percent of the time to notify applicant small businesses of award decisions within required deadlines. A small business has a zero percent chance of being able to plan to start an innovation project within six months if they apply to ARPA-E (the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency) or the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, both of which never met the deadline. 

Federal innovation policy at the recess — what has moved in Congress and what may happen in the fall

The 116th Congress has already advanced policies to affect regional innovation economies, and much more is poised to happen once both chambers return in September. In addition to completing the FY 2019 budget (see our Feb. coverage), this session has seen Regional Innovation Strategies legislation pass the House and Senate (albeit in different bills); the Senate working toward an overhaul of the Small Business Administration; and, the start of the FY 2020 budget process.

SSTI letter to Senate supporting SBA innovation programs

As covered in the last Weekly Digest, the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship held a hearing on reauthorizing SBA’s innovation programs. SSTI was invited to add to the hearing’s record, and our letter supporting SBIR/STTR pilot programs, FAST and entrepreneurial development programs is produced, below.

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