8(a) still dodging bullets.

Author:Jones, Joyce
Position:Rep. Jan Meyers introduces bill against minority contract provisions in Small Business Administration's 8a - Includes related article on other small business legislation

It was her latest effort to torpedo minority business. Just hours before the August congressional recess, Rep. Jan Meyers (R-Kansas) quietly introduced a bill that would effectively eliminate the SBA's 8(a) program. As the retiring chair of the House Small Business Committee, she planned this last-minute legislation as her swan song, or so it would appear.

With the Dole-Canady bill (which proposes to outlaw race and sex-based remedies in hiring and federal contract awards fading into the background for now, Meyers has apparently decided to go guns blazing after minority contracting and procurement. She has introduced H.R. 3994, the Entrepreneur Development Program Act of 1996. A radical alternative to 8(a) - which accounts for more than half of all minority participation in federal procurement - Meyers' bill would provide opportunities for anyone with a net worth of $250,000 or less, regardless of whether the company is minority-owned.

"When you get into economic empowerment and business issues, you're hitting at the heart of the American system," says Rep. Al Wynn (D-Maryland). "That's why she's taking the thing that is most useful to minorities today, which is access to government contracts.

As the 104th Congress' final legislative session drew to a close, Meyers called a hearing on the bill, assembling a chorus of witnesses to back up her allegations a "rich get richer program for Beltway Bandits." Meyers has said on many occasions that she believes 8(a) is a "program of corporate welfare in its worst form." That depiction has left many on the Hill fuming. "She's distorted the facts and I don't think she really understands...

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