Small Businesses Look to Congress for Action, May Be Waiting

With Congress back at work, small business owners are hoping issues they care about like tax reform or health care will get some attention. They may be left waiting a while.

Most of the focus this fall will likely be on the presidential race and other elections. Both houses of Congress are in session during September, then leave for campaigning. They have four scheduled weeks of work starting Nov. 14 in what's known as a lame duck session, but how much lawmakers accomplish then may depend on the results of the presidential voting and which party controls the House and Senate.

"There will be a lot of things that will be kicked down the road, and that just continues to cause more uncertainty and unpredictability for small businesses," says Karen Kerrigan, president of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council.

Meanwhile, small business groups want to see how much attention their wish list gets from the presidential campaigns of Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump.

The Congressional Agenda

Kerrigan is optimistic about some bills that have support from both parties, including legislation that would let small businesses offer employees Health Reimbursement Arrangements, or company-funded savings accounts that staffers can use to pay medical bills. HRAs became illegal under the health care overhaul. The bill has passed the House.

Another measure with bipartisan support that Kerrigan says has a chance of passing would modify online crowdfunding investment that became legal in May. The bill, which has been approved by the House, would raise the total that a company can raise from individual investors to $5 million from $1 million. It also would allow a fund known as a special-purpose vehicle or single-purpose vehicle to buy shares on behalf of a group of individual investors. That would make crowdfunding more attractive to venture capital or private equity funds...

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