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As reported to you on Oct 26, Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME), chair and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship (SBE) were able to get the Senate to pass S. 1929 that extends SBIR/STTR for all agencies (except DoD which was handled separately) for 6 months, expiring on April 30, 2010. The bill was then sent to the House for a vote.

Naturally, Representative Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), chair of the House Small Business Committee (SBC), didn't see eye to eye with the Senate, so she amended the bill by changing 6 months to 3 with an expiration date of January 31, 2010. With the short leash of the current October 31, 2009 expiration, and the fact that the House will not meet on Friday, the Senate will concur with the amendment and the President will sign this new Continuing Resolution (CR).

Bottom line, the SBIR/STTR programs will be extended through January 31, 2010, except for the DoD which was addressed separately by the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, and run through September 30, 2010.

The House and Senate are still in conference trying to reconcile differences in their bills in order to pass a true SBIR reauthorization bill. All conferees are being tight lipped about the progress but it is believed that they are getting close to a compromise bill. The Senate's bill originally contained several compromises on sensitive issues while the House was closer to "my way or the highway." Consequently progress on conferencing the two bills has been very slow and tough, to the point where some question if they can "get er done."

The Senate and House Armed Services Committees, lead by Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) and Representative Ike Skelton (D-MO), were not comfortable with the above scenario. Realizing that the SBIR, STTR and CPP programs were of great importance and benefit to the Department of Defense (DoD), as well as many small businesses, Levin and Skelton took matters into their own hands and worked together (with their ranking members and committees) to extended the DoD SBIR/STTR/CPP programs though the end of the fiscal year (September 30, 2010). The vehicle used was the 2010 National Defense Authorization Act, signed into law Wednesday, October 28.

The Armed Services committees were aided and abetted by the Senate SBE, while the House's SBC and S&T committees cried "foul", sent letters to Skelton and whined to Pelosi. Ultimately House S&T subcommittee David Wu (D-OR) worked out a compromise and the 14 year DoD extension was reduced to 1 year. Kudos to Levin, Skelton, Landrieu and their staff for their efforts. Oh yes, a "restrained nod" to Wu for trying to be helpful in a difficult situation.


Just so you don't feel slighted, CRs are not the sole domain of SBIR. Actually Congress just passed a much bigger and more important CR today, the one that funds the government and keeps it running! It too was set to expire on October 31, but the new CR will keep the government funded through................ December 18, 2009. The CR was part of H.R. 2996; Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2010.

The relationship of this to SBIR is that Congress has a lot to do before the end of the year. They go home early for Christmas, so the December 18 date is "drop dead" for finishing and passing the remaining 7 (out of 12) appropriations bills that fund the government. Although Congress wants to address each of the remaining 7 bills individually, it is most likely they'll fail and the tool to fix everything will be an end-of-the-year omnibus bill.

By now you're familiar with the phrase "too big to fail" (i.e., AIG, GM et al.), well the same is true for the end-of-the-year omnibus bill. Historically all kinds of items are slipped into these "must pass" bills. Is it possible that SBIR reauth may be one of those? Could it be used to "sneak" some unpopular small business items into law? It's been tried before.


This is the mantra of Congressman Jeff Flake (R-AZ). There is no greater champion against earmarks than Mr. Flake, and he is sometimes very irritating and embarrassing to the majority leadership.

Although Mr. Flake is not a proponent of SBIR, he has not tried to kill it. In fact, he came to its aid last year and again this year by offering an amendment to SBIR reauthorization, not allowing any earmarking of SBIR "award" dollars. He saw the House's action of legitimizing and encouraging "Jumbo Awards" as an open door to earmarking, that previously didn't exist in SBIR. His amendment was ruled "out of order" by the House Rules Committee and it was not allowed to be voted on.

Interestingly enough, today, in the House's voting on H.R. 3854, "Small Business Financing and Investment Act of 2009", Flake offered a similar amendment to the Small Business Early Stage Investment Program portion of the bill. This award program is supposed to be competitively based and Flake offered up his anti-earmark amendment. This time the Rules Committee ruled it "in order" and instead of a voice vote, a role call (ayes and nays) were requested and a recorded vote was taken.

At the risk of sounding like a republican (I'm not, I'm a pedestrian), you may not believe the results. 53 Democrats and 2 Republicans voted against the amendment, actually voting FOR earmarking of what's supposed to be competitive funding dollars. I don't have the list yet, but rest assured, those folks will be noted.


You're now up-to-date and can relax for a while. We'll let you know if there are any changes or new items to be aware of. The Q&A's I promised you will come in another issue. I'll be discussing many of your issues at some upcoming conferences that invited me to speak. I hope to see you at one of these:

National SBIR Conference - Reno, NV * November 2 - 5, 2009

Mid-Atlantic Regional SBIR Conference - Morgantown, WV * November 30 - December 2, 2009

Mid-Continent Regional SBIR Conference - St. Louis, MO * January 28 - 29, 2009

Hope you have a good Halloween.



Rick Shindell
SBIR Gateway
Zyn Systems
40 Alderwood Dr.
Sequim, WA 98382
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