Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Velazquez Holding SBIR Hostage for Lame Duck Ploy

[UPDATE 9/29: Nydia Caved Under Pressure!
Read this and then click HERE for the update.]

Incredible! And I wish I could say unbelievable! But, sadly, I'm not really surprised.

The illustrious Chairlady of the House Small Business Committee, Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), evidently holds herself above the will of both the Senate and the House. Is this a manifestation of self-importance (with a touch of petulance) or just selfish personal pocket-book protection? Or maybe both. I have my opinion, but you can draw your own conclusions. (Rumor has it she was recently seen shopping at Macy's for a bigger pocket-book.)

In an obvious ploy to sneak into law her provisions for opening up the SBIR program to unrestricted VC controlled company access to these funds, with jumbo awards to boot, she is defying the will of the Senate and many of her own Party in the House to get her way. The intent is to use the post-election Lame Duck session to tack her version of SBIR Reauthorization onto otherwise untouchable emergency legislation.

In his usual inimitable and eloquent style, Rick Shindell blew the whistle on this in his SBIR Insider of September 27:


The SBIR/STTR/CPP now appears likely to expire on Thursday night, September 30. Some will deny it but here's what's happening.

Allegedly the Senate and House were close to a compromise complete with an 8 year reauthorization of SBIR/STTR/CPP but each time it goes back to the House (Nydia & Day), they change the VC language to masquerade 100% VC involvement as a compromise.

Because time is so short, the Senate passed a bill (S.3839) to simply extend SBIR/STTR/CPP through January 31, 2011. The House was going to pass it on Wednesday with the President signing Thursday. However, the word on the street is that Nydia Velazquez, chair of the House Small Business Committee, and her illustrious second, Michael Day, are rejecting the bill and are poised to let SBIR expire if necessary, at least in the short term.

It seems that Velazquez's hope is to move the SBIR reauthorization into the lame duck session and incorporate all her Wall Street investors' 100% non-compromise VC ownership and jumbo award support into a must pass, end of the year omnibus bill that can't be touched by her detractors.

This sounds like a script for TV, but several years ago we had a similar year end omnibus situation involving Nydia (as ranking member) and Sam Graves (subcommittee chair) and BIO/NVCA, but the main difference was that the small business committee chair was Donald Manzullo who nipped it in the bud. In our scenario today we have to look to the House leadership to do it, but it will take your involvement.

Many senior people in the democratic party called for the House to support the Senate compromise bill H.R. 2965, but Nydia ignored those calls, as did Jason Altmire, the creator of this infamous Altmire Quagmire. Now Nydia's really "miffed" because last week she tried to "scrub" H.R.5297, the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, but the Obama administration and Speaker Pelosi rolled her over and passed it.

Rick includes a Call To Action to marshal support to prevent this Velazquez ploy from succeeding. You can read about it on the SBIR Insider itself, or on www.SBIRreauthorization.com.

Rick concludes his comments with a discussion of what happens if SBIR lapses, even for a short time:

Theoretically those projects (grants and contracts) that are already in place should be okay, but some not. All new unsigned agreements would stop. Agency comptrollers may start adjusting their budgets to put the overall 2.8% SBIR/STTR back into their own research pools. Administrative funding for SBIR could be severely cut back. Remember, all of your grants and contracts are "subject to the availability of funding."

On the other hand, SBIR can be voluntary, so some agencies may choose to keep their SBIR doors open, hoping for, or expecting the reinstatement of the program.

I agree with Rick. For SBIR to lapse, even for a short time, is bad for you and the agencies.

Please join our Call to Action and stop Nydia in her tracks.


Monitor what happens on www.SBIRreauthorization.com.

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