With the election of 104 new Representatives and Senators, the 112th Congress will be marked with changes in both the House of Representatives and Senate following the November elections.
Most directly affecting the minority business community will be changes in the chairmanships of the House Small Business and Financial Services Committees. These committees are responsible for guiding legislation through the chamber that deals with issues such as reforming the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) Program, access to capital, and trade. U.S. Rep. Sam Graves (MO-06) is taking over as Chairman of the Small Business Committee from U.S. Rep Nydia Velazquez (NY-12). Additionally, U.S. Rep Spencer Bachus (AL-06) is assuming the chairmanship of the Financial Services Committee from U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (MA-04). Both outgoing chairs will remain on their respective committees as Ranking Minority Members.
Another notable change in the House will be on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform which will be chaired by U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (CA-49). The Oversight and Government Reform Committee has broad jurisdiction covering most government functions including federal contracting practices. U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings (MD-07) will serve as Ranking Member on the committee.
In the Senate, while most of the chairmanships will remain the same, the influx of freshman Senators will lead to some new faces in the memberships of the Small Business, Commerce, and Finance Committees.
In light of these changes it is more important than ever that those in the minority business community become engaged in the governing process. This includes creating and maintaining open lines of communication with Members of Congress either through phone calls, emails, faxes, or attending community events. All Members of Congress list their contact information on their individual websites which can be accessed either through www.senate.gov or www.house.gov.
The Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) will continue to actively engage Members of Congress on the issues of importance to the constituency it serves. As an example, on January 21, 2011, MBDA and Senator Robert P. Casey (PA) will hold a roundtable discussion in Philadelphia, PA with area minority businesses. This will be the first of many steps the Agency takes to keep Congress aware of the importance of a robust minority business community.