Dear SBIR Insider,
I surrender! I'm sorry I can't answer all of your reauthorization questions personally. I have been ready to send a new SBIR Insider several times this week, but I had to stop each time because the situation was changing hour to hour. However, here's the skinny as it stands Wednesday Night, September 21, 2011.
In this issue:
Reauthorization or Continuing Resolution?
Forget about reauthorization for the immediate future, the focus right now is on a Continuing Resolution (CR), not just for SBIR, but for the entire government which is void of any FY-2012 budget. Without a CR there will be a government-wide shutdown starting October 1.
The good news is that congress has taken action to give a temporary extension to SBIR in conjunction with the government-wide CR to keep the entire government going through November 18, 2011. The bad news is that the House just (unexpectedly) voted the government-wide CR down!
Pandemonium has broken out on the hill, and republican leaders are struggling to find a way to pass their CR. In fact, House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor (R-VA) has just cautioned his "children" that they may have to work through the weekend (both House & Senate were scheduled to recess starting at close of business Friday September 23 through October 4).
There are several major issues between republicans and democrats as well as republicans and republicans that fueled the failure of the CR, and none had anything to do with SBIR. In fact, SBIR is hardly noticed in the bill (except by our community) and therein lies the problem.
If the House creates (or hijacks a bill) as a vehicle for a new clean CR, the SBIR language may not make the transfer (the failed CR contains 17 pages of legislation). But, if they merely take the current CR's language and simply adjust the budget numbers, the SBIR portion should be ok.
If SBIR falls out of the bill there is a possibility the Senate could fix it when the bill gets sent to them, but they will most likely only tinker with the big issues such as disaster aid, and the DOE budget.
The House majority leadership met this evening to find a way that the Rules Committee could facilitate a procedure to allow a vote on another version of the CR on Thursday. They will try. There will be a hot time in the old House on Thursday.
We'll let you know what happens.
For Political Junkies Only – The Story Behind the Headlines
The only value of this article is for the curiosity of those interested in the politics of what has transpired. Most of what you needed to know has already been presented, but many of you wanted to know what was happening behind the scenes. The legislative process is not easy to follow.
Since no budgets have been passed for fiscal year 2012, the House had to create a mechanism for a short term CR to fund the entire federal government. This was created in the form of House Joint Resolution 79 (H.J. RES 79) authored by Hal Rogers (R-KY), the chair of the House Appropriations Committee. FYI, chairman Rogers and ranking member Norm Dicks (D-WA) [who is a true SBIR champion], work very well together.
H.J. RES 79 was basically a continuing resolution (CR) to keep our government funded from October 1, 2011 through November 18, 2011, but it contained many provisions for budget adjustments and in some cases, the elimination of programs and recession of some FY-2011 funds at DOE. In this 17 page bill, section 123 was added which explicitly extended SBIR, STTR and CPP "as is" through November 18 (much of this to the credit of those of you who were proactive with your representatives, and/or trade groups representing the small biz community).
There were sharp differences between House republicans & democrats on the budget adjustment numbers, and also within the majority party itself. Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) was threatening to amend the bill and send it back to the House (provided he could get it passed in the Senate).
Now here's the amusing part for you political junkies. The House Joint Resolution was not a good vehicle for a bill that would require amendments between the House & Senate, so the bill's sponsor, Hal Rogers needed to hijack an existing bill that was going nowhere, and he found it in HR 2608 (Small Business Program Extension and Reform Act of 2011).
The title of that bill is coincidental and has nothing to do with SBIR. In actuality it dealt with those small business programs that were jettisoned from the last SBIR continuing resolution!
This is similar to what happened to our SBIR reauthorization bill last year when HR 2965 (SBIR/STTR Reauthorization Act of 2009) was passed and signed into law! The only problem was that an amendment was made to the bill, in the form of a substitute that replaced all SBIR language with the repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell" which in fact, is being celebrated by supporters as it takes effect today!
Recently, HR 2608 (Small Business Program Extension and Reform Act of 2011) was amended in the form of a substitute that replaced all language with the language of H.J. RES 79, and that included the extension of SBIR/STTR/CPP, but the bill was voted down today in the House 195 to 230.
In today's vote, 48 republicans crossed over to vote "no" while only 6 democrats crossed to vote "yes". Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) did a heck of a job caucusing with his dems this morning to defeat the bill. This looks like a defeat for Speaker Boehner and it gives House dems a temporary advantage on the issue of disaster funding
We'll see what tomorrow brings.