Dear SBIR Insider,
This is a quick interim update as to congressional actions affecting SBIR/STTR reauthorization. It's hard to believe that things are still "fluid" in these waning hours of this 111th "lame duck" (some may say "insane duck") congress. As Lawrence Peter (Yogi) Berra said, "It ain't over till it's over." We may issue an update (perhaps with a call to action) at anytime, however we will have a full blown SBIR Insider for you later this week.
Regardless of the outcome of congressional efforts, the SBIR Insider wants to acknowledge the extraordinary work of all the congressional staffers and parliamentarians, who due to the stress and strain are buckling at the knees, but somehow manage to keep going under the extreme load during this manic period.
In this issue:
What Does SBIR And "Don't Ask Don't Tell" Have In Common?
You're not going to believe this. For a few years we've been reporting on SBIR reauthorization attempts and last year the House passed their version (HR 2965), and the Senate passed theirs (S1233).
Both were vastly different, but the Senate decided to use the House's bill HR 2965, and issue an amendment to it which replaced the House's language with the Senate's SBIR language. Then came the slow process of "resolving differences" (sometimes called "conferencing") between the two bodies, which has been going on since July of 2009. In the last few months we heard of some progress that was being made and there was some hope that reauthorization would come in the form of HR 2965 before the end of the year.
We heard some incredibly positive things were happening! Then…. on December 15 we observed that the House passed HR 2965 and sent it to the Senate for passage (don't get excited). On December 18, the Senate took up the bill and clerk read the bill's title "SBIR/STTR Reauthorization Act of 2009". It passed… BUT…
What had really happened was the text of the bill was changed (amended) and passed in the House on December 15, and passed by the Senate with all the SBIR language stripped out, and replaced by the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010." Yes, that's what was passed and is on its way to the President.
You may ask "why did they take our bill away?" In all likelihood congress needed a way to pass the "Don't ask don't tell repeal" in a hurry, through a mechanism that the opposition couldn't block. The fact that our SBIR bill HR 2965 was in the "resolving differences" phase and had been voted on in both bodies, made it a perfect vehicle. Bye bye SBIR, hello Don't ask don't tell.
The topic of "Don't ask don't tell" is outside of the scope of your SBIR Insider, but you have to wonder why SBIR was tossed to the wolves… or was it? Concurrent to all of this activity, another amazing event was about to happen. Read the next article to find out.
Senate Small Biz Accomplishes An SBIR Miracle
The Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship (SBE) was not taken "off guard" by the "Don't ask don't tell" maneuver that took over the former SBIR bill HR 2965. The SBE returned to their original S.1233 SBIR bill with updated compromise language.
The committee under the leadership of its Chair, Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and ranking member Olympia Snowe (R-ME), along with the hard and feverish work of their amazing staff (on both sides), were able to, at least for a while, have the lions lie down with the lambs in the SBIR arena.
Unimaginable! You've been hearing about the crossed swords between BIO and SBTC for years, but this time the SBE created a compromise that garnered strong letters of support from James Greenwood, President and CEO of Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO); Mark Heesen, President, National Venture Capital Association (NVCA); Jere W. Glover, Executive Director, Small Business Technology Council (SBTC), Todd O. McCracken, President, National Small Business Association (NSBA) and others.
James Greenwood states in his letter of December 16, 2010 to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell:
" The SBIR/STTR reauthorization represents a compromise between competing approaches to ensure America's small businesses remain at the forefront of global innovation. The bill recognizes that the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program - last reauthorized in 2000 - plays an important role in the development of new breakthrough therapies to improve human health, and must be updated to reflect the new realities facing America's small businesses in the 21st Century."
SBTC's Jere Glover states in his December 16, 2010 letter to Olympia Snowe:
" We are writing to express our support for the Landrieu/Snowe compromise as agreed to by SBTC and Biotechnology Industry Organization. The compromise we reached with yourself, Senator Landrieu, and BIO blends S 1233 and HR 2965, and brings us together on many issues. With this agreement between our two industry trade organizations, SBTC strongly supports the revised Senate version of the proposed SBIR legislation and urge its prompt passage."
Sadly there is little time for the Senate to pass this and we hear that someone may have tried to stall this legislation in the Senate. However, it is still possible to get this through.
Insiders from within the bowels of the House have hinted that Nydia Velazquez, House Small Business Committee Chair (at least for the next few days) and her trusted sidekick Michael (row your bill ashore) Day are against this compromise bill and will fight it.
Rest assured, if the bill gets to the House, your instantaneous support will be needed because there are still powerful detractors to the Senate's SBIR bill, largely in the form of academic based societies. Calling your Representative will be key at that point. We'll keep you in the loop.