After two rewarding years serving as chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, I passed the gavel last week to a highly capable leader and my friend, Senator Marco Rubio. I was elected chairman in January 2017 following nearly seven years of service on the committee. I am extremely proud of what we were able to accomplish for America’s small businesses in that time, and look forward to what more we will do in the years ahead as my membership on the committee continues.
During my tenure as chairman, we passed dozens of reforms - several were signed into law - on a range of issues from protecting small business patent holders to improving cybersecurity counseling, enhancing opportunities for rural small businesses and expanding entrepreneurs’ access to the capital needed to start and grow a business. These bills all passed in a bipartisan manner, proving we can have political and ideological differences and still find common ground for the success of our nation’s economic drivers.
In a rare display of bipartisanship and bicameral cooperation, I worked with my Republican and Democrat counterparts on the Senate and House small business committees to pass a bill strengthening the oversight of the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) loan programs. This bill ensures the loan programs are being operated effectively and ensures there is availability for small businesses trying to access credit in the future. It took months of hard work and negotiation, but we knew this would make a positive difference for small businesses who aren’t able to access credit conventionally. SBA’s loan programs fill a real gap in the lending market as banks have continued to struggle to lend to entrepreneurs and small businesses while adhering to regulations from the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010. I’m pleased to say this bill was signed into law on June 21, 2018.
The committee also played an important role in tax reform. During consideration of tax reform legislation, we held a hearing on issues of importance to small businesses. Our members sent a bipartisan letter to the Senate Finance Committee's leaders outlining these issues for consideration as they crafted the tax reform legislation. I’m glad a number of the policies we raised were included in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act which became law last December. In the twelve months since tax reform’s passage, small business optimism has hit record high levels, and I hear new stories each day about businesses doing great things, like expanding or providing raises for their employees, as the benefits of tax reform have been realized.
I have also worked to address the cybersecurity needs of small businesses in an increasingly digital age. I worked with Senator Brian Schatz on legislation to provide a consistent set of resources to small businesses to enable them to protect their digital assets, customers, and employees from cyber threats. This bill was signed into law by President Trump on August 14, 2018.
It was an honor to lead the committee and to work in a bipartisan way with two ranking members: Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Ben Cardin. This committee has long been known for its bipartisan efforts to serve small businesses, and we continued the tradition well.
Though I have become chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for the 116 th Congress, my service on the small business committee remains a high priority and will enable me to continue fighting for entrepreneurs in Idaho. I look forward to working with Senate leadership to advance business-friendly priorities and to continue finding areas of common ground where we can make progress on issues of importance to small businesses. It has been a pleasure to lead this committee on behalf of America’s job creators and innovators, the true backbone of our economy.