[Congressional Record Volume 166, Number 158 (Monday, September 14, 2020)]
[House]
[Pages H4345-H4347]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




        NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS SMALL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT ACT

  Ms. VELAZQUEZ. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the 
bill (H.R. 6021) to amend the Small Business Act to ensure that the 
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands is eligible for certain 
Small Business Administration programs, and for other purposes.
  The Clerk read the title of the bill.
  The text of the bill is as follows:

                               H.R. 6021

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,

     SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

       This Act may be cited as the ``Northern Mariana Islands 
     Small Business Development Act''.

     SEC. 2. ELIGIBILITY OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF THE NORTHERN 
                   MARIANA ISLANDS FOR CERTAIN SMALL BUSINESS 
                   ADMINISTRATION PROGRAMS.

       The Small Business Act is amended--
       (1) in section 21(a) (15 U.S.C. 648(a))--

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       (A) in paragraph (1), by inserting before ``The 
     Administration shall require'' the following new sentence: 
     ``The previous sentence shall not apply to an applicant that 
     has its principal office located in the Commonwealth of the 
     Northern Mariana Islands.''; and
       (B) in paragraph (4)(C)(ix), by striking ``and American 
     Samoa'' and inserting ``American Samoa, and the Commonwealth 
     of the Northern Mariana Islands''; and
       (2) in section 34(a)(9) (15 U.S.C. 657d(a)(9)), by striking 
     ``and American Samoa'' and inserting ``American Samoa, and 
     the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands''.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentlewoman from 
New York (Ms. Velazquez) and the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. Chabot) each 
will control 20 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from New York.


                             General Leave

  Ms. VELAZQUEZ. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members 
may have 5 legislative days in which to revise and extend their remarks 
and include extraneous material on the measure under consideration.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentlewoman from New York?
  There was no objection.
  Ms. VELAZQUEZ. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may 
consume.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 6021, the Northern 
Mariana Islands Small Business Development Act.
  There are 1,700 small businesses with 18,000 employees in the 
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, yet these businesses are 
the only ones in the United States that are ineligible for the SBA's 
Small Business Development Center, or SBDC, and Federal and State 
Technology, or FAST, partnership programs.
  The SBDC program provides free or low-cost counseling and training 
services to thousands of entrepreneurs and small business owners each 
year, and the FAST partnership program provides funding to increase the 
number of Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business 
Technical Transfer applications and better prepare applicants for 
success.
  The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, which rely heavily 
on tourism, has not been immune from the economic devastation resulting 
from COVID-19. Moreover, it has been trying to rebuild from two 
catastrophic typhoons that wreaked havoc on the country in October 
2018.
  By extending SBA's SBDC and FAST programs to the Commonwealth of the 
Northern Mariana Islands, Congress will extend valuable opportunities 
for small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs to receive support 
from qualified counselors on how to launch and grow their small 
businesses as well as recover from the economic catastrophes.
  In March, H.R. 6021 was unanimously approved by the House Small 
Business Committee, and I commend the sponsors of the legislation, Mr. 
Sablan and Mrs. Radewagen, for raising this inequity to the committee.
  The dedication they have shown to creating greater parity to the 
entrepreneurs in all territories shows exactly how small business 
issues are neither Democratic nor Republican issues; they are American 
issues.
  Mr. Speaker, I urge all my colleagues to join me in supporting the 
small business owners and entrepreneurs of the Commonwealth of the 
Northern Mariana Islands by voting in favor of H.R. 6021.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. CHABOT. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, this extends a matter of simple fairness to American 
citizens.
  Currently, the Northern Mariana Islands, part of the United States 
since 1975, is the only U.S. jurisdiction not included for eligibility 
in certain SBA programs.
  According to the SBA, there are more than 1,700 small businesses in 
the Commonwealth that employ more than 18,000 people. These businesses, 
these owners, these employees, and these families are no different than 
those in my hometown of Cincinnati or those in the chairwoman's 
district in Brooklyn.
  This bill amends the Small Business Act to allow the Commonwealth of 
the Northern Mariana Islands to establish a lead Small Business 
Development Center, or SBDC, and to be eligible for the same funding as 
the other lead SBDCs across our Nation.
  Additionally, H.R. 6021 waives the requirement that the new SBDC be 
established at a higher education institution because the Commonwealth 
of the Northern Mariana Islands does not have a college or university 
to operate an SBDC on campus.
  The Northern Mariana Islands' 55,000 inhabitants deserve the same 
access to SBA programs as any other American citizen, and this bill 
ensures that they do. It is a very simple, bipartisan, and just piece 
of legislation. I urge my colleagues to support it, and I reserve the 
balance of my time.
  Ms. VELAZQUEZ. Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. CHABOT. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume. 
We have no further speakers on our side, so I am prepared to close.
  I would like the thank gentleman from the Northern Mariana Islands 
(Mr. Sablan) and the gentlewoman from American Samoa (Mrs. Radewagen) 
for their leadership on this issue.
  The legislation is long overdue, and I am happy to support the bill. 
I urge my colleagues to support the bill as well, and I yield back the 
balance of my time.
  Ms. VELAZQUEZ. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may 
consume.
  Mr. Speaker, I just urge support of this bill. It corrects an 
inequity, and I am so proud that, under my leadership and the ranking 
member, we are providing access to all the programs under the Small 
Business Administration for the small businesses in the Northern 
Mariana Islands.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. SABLAN. Mr. Speaker, my legislation, H.R. 6021, ensures the 1,700 
small businesses in my district can receive assistance through grants 
from the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) program and through 
FAST, the Federal and State Technology program.
  The Northern Mariana Islands is the only place in the U.S. not 
included in these Small Business Administration (SBA) programs, which 
help small businesses access the knowledge and capital needed to grow 
and compete successfully for federal contracting opportunities.
  H.R. 6021, the Northern Mariana Islands Small Business Development 
Act, would correct that by ensuring Marianas businesses access to these 
SBA programs on the same basis as their counterparts across the nation. 
The Small Business Committee unanimously reported the bill favorably in 
March.
  Under my legislation, the Marianas can apply to establish a Lead 
SBDC, which would make available renewable funding to expand the reach 
and capacity of the existing SBDC service center on Saipan. With 
additional funding, small businesses on Saipan, Tinian and Rota will 
have better access to free or low-cost services such as incubator 
workspaces for entrepreneurs, business planning, operations, and other 
areas required for small business growth and success.
  H.R. 6021 would also help our small businesses participate in federal 
research and development opportunities. The legislation does this by 
including the Marianas in the SSA's FAST program which funds outreach 
and assistance to small businesses interested in competing for the 
Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology 
Transfer programs.
  I want to also express my support for H.R. 6079, the Microloan 
Improvement Act, being considered by the House. The Act includes a 
provision from my bill, H.R. 2603, which provides Marianas small 
businesses owners access to the SBA's Microloan program. SBA microloans 
provide up to $50,000 typically not offered by banks for working 
capital or the acquisition of materials, supplies, or equipment. The 
program also provides marketing, management, and technical assistance 
to assist the women, low-income, veteran entrepreneurs in my district.
  I ask my colleagues to support H.R. 6021 and H.R. 6079, so we can be 
sure that all small businesses in our country can fully benefit from 
the SBA's programs, regardless of where in our nation they happen to 
operate.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the 
gentlewoman from New York (Ms. Velazquez) that the House suspend the 
rules and pass the bill, H.R. 6021.
  The question was taken; and (two-thirds being in the affirmative) the 
rules were suspended and the bill was passed.
  A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.

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