U.S. Sen. Feingold: Sees small business bill as another chance to help Wisconsin businesses

Contact: Zach Lowe (202) 224-8657

Pushes Amendments to Help Farmers and Rural Businesses, Protect Businesses from Bad Contractors and Support American Jobs

Washington, D.C. –U.S. Senator Russ Feingold is working to help Wisconsin businesses as a small business bill moves through the Senate. The Senate is currently debating the Small Business Jobs and Credit Act of 2010, legislation designed to help small businesses to access capital and make investments. The legislation is fully paid for so as to not increase the deficit.

“This bill offers an important opportunity to give small businesses a boost when they need it the most,” Feingold said. “I worked to pass a payroll tax break earlier this year, which has so far made participating businesses eligible to receive up to $8.5 billion in tax exemptions and credits. And I am continuing to push for extending and expanding that tax break to reward more businesses that expand employment. This bill is the latest effort to back American small businesses, the engines of our economy, and do so without increasing the deficit.”

Feingold is pushing amendments to the bill to help farmers and rural businesses, protect small business from contractors with bad track records, and support American workers by encouraging the federal government to buy American-made goods whenever possible.

“There are provisions I’m working to add to the bill based on concerns I have heard from business people all over Wisconsin,” Feingold said. “I have heard from farmers and rural businesses about how the down economy has taken a heavy toll on them and I want to be sure the SBA and USDA are doing all they can to make sure farmers and businesses in rural communities are aware of the help available to them. After hearing from Wisconsin businesses that were taken for a ride by an out-of-state contractor, I see this bill as an opportunity to protect small businesses by preventing contractors with bad track records from getting government contracts. And this bill also presents an opportunity to continue my longstanding efforts to ensure the federal government is purchasing American-made goods whenever possible. By adding these amendments, I hope to make an already good bill for businesses even better.”

Feingold has filed three amendments to further improve the bill:

· Improving Outreach to Farmers and Rural Businesses – As the Obama administration has worked to increase assistance to small businesses through the Small Business Administration (SBA), Feingold has consistently worked to make sure farmers and rural businesses are not left out. Feingold is working to include an amendment to the Small Business Jobs Act to direct the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the SBA to coordinate outreach to farmers and rural businesses so they are aware of funding available through SBA programs. Since SBA offices are often in metropolitan areas, farmers and rural businesses may find it harder to access SBA assistance.

· Protecting Small Businesses from Contractors with Bad Track Records – Feingold is working to pass an amendment to the bill based on legislation he introduced with Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) to strengthen contractor oversight and help prevent contractors with poor performance records from receiving government contracts. Feingold introduced the legislation in part because of a case in which an out-of-state contractor, which reportedly received over six million dollars in contracts, failed to pay several Wisconsin small businesses it hired as subcontractors on those government contracts.

· Supporting American workers – Feingold is also pushing an amendment to the bill to extend a government-wide Buy American reporting requirement for another five years. In 2007, Feingold successfully offered legislation to require government agencies to report to Congress when it purchased goods made in foreign countries and explain why. Feingold’s amendment to the small business bill would extend the requirement for another five years.

More information on the Small Business Jobs Act is available at here.