Brooklyn Bipartisanship: Clarke, Donovan Co-Sponsor Small Biz Bill

U.S. Rep. Dan Donovan (8)

Maybe there is hope that Democrats and Republicans can put aside ideological differences and work together for the greater good.

That after U.S. Reps. Yvette D. Clarke (D-Crown Heights, Flatbush, East Flatbush, Park Slope, Midwood, Sheepshead Bay, Brownsville) and Dan Donovan (R-Southern Brooklyn, Staten Island) yesterday introduced a measure creating a pilot program in which the Small Business Administration (SBA) would certify qualifying firms as small disadvantaged businesses (SDB).

Congresswoman Yvette Clarke
Congressman Dan Donovan

A SDB is a small business that is at least 51 percent owned by one or more individuals who are both socially and economically disadvantaged. The designation makes a company eligible for bidding and contracting benefit programs involved with federal procurement.

Dubbed the Streamlining Small Disadvantaged Businesses Act, Clarke and Donovan’s measure would address the tthousands of SDBs around the country who experience difficulty expanding their businesses and competing for government contracts.

Currently, states and municipalities have different criteria for what is considered a SDB. The measure would streamline and standardize the process for getting SDB certified on the federal level, which the thinking has it, will also encourage states and local governments to adopt the single federal standard for contracts across their levels of government.

“In my home state of New York, one in four business owners come from disadvantaged backgrounds. Unfortunately, we make it too hard for them to apply for city, state, and federal contracting opportunities, by creating burdensome and duplicative processes. This bill would change that by creating a federal small disadvantaged business standard that states and local governments can choose to adopt. Seeing small businesses flourish helps all of us – it is time we do our part to make sure all businesses have the tools they need to succeed,” said Clarke.

Donovan said even when navigating programs intended to help them, small businesses still get bogged down in unnecessary bureaucracy.

“By cutting through red tape and streamlining inefficient processes, we will help Staten Island and Brooklyn entrepreneurs unleash their potential and promote a more competitive marketplace for all. Small businesses are the engine of our economy – providing jobs, investment, and economic vitality in our communities – and I’m proud to support a bill that will help increase opportunities for hardworking Americans,” said Donovan.

Sources say that Clarke first came up with the measure, and then had her legislative staff reach out across the House aisle to members of the Republican majority, with which they felt they could find common ground. Donovan’s office responded in the affirmative and the two offices crafted out the proposed measure.

The timing of the bill comes as Donovan is locked in a nationally watched and highly partisan Congressional race against Democratic challenger Max Rose.

Rose’s spokesperson Jennifer Blatus said of the legislation, “It only took Dan Donovan three years and a strong challenger like Max Rose to realize that small businesses needed help. Based on Dan’s record in Congress, it’s sad to say that this bill will probably go nowhere because he has no energy, no spine and no clue how to do his job.”

Donovan’s campaign spokesperson Jessica Proud countered by saying, “From his work securing mass transit and homeland security funding to Zadroga reauthorization, Dan has a long history of bipartisan leadership, and this latest initiative to help small businesses is no different. While our opponent spends his time repeating Pelosi’s DCCC talking points, Dan is busy working and delivering results.”