Dear Chair DeLauro and Ranking Member Granger:
As the Committee prepares to mark up the Fiscal Year 2022 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce supports full funding for the Office of the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, the Small Business Administration (SBA) and its affiliated programs, and for the Office of State Trade and Export Promotion. The Chamber and its members support the efforts that agencies have undertaken to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic and to provide critical lifelines to businesses. In addition, we urge you to consider the following recommendations.
The Chamber supports the following provisions:
- Full funding of at least $1.8 million for the Office of the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (IPEC) within the Executive Office of the President for additional permanent positions within IPEC. The Chamber continues to strongly support the Office of the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (IPEC) and the work of the Office to promote voluntary, stakeholder-driven initiatives to deprive piracy services revenue from legitimate payment processors and advertising networks. The Chamber supports the mission of the Office to focus on engaging hosting entities such as registries and registrars to combat piracy. Funding dedicated, full-time staff will assist the IPEC in fulfilling its mission of improving government agency efficiencies and coordination and supporting private sector initiatives to combat intellectual property theft and counterfeiting of domestic products.
- Lending authority in the amount of $30 billion for the SBA 7(a) lending program. Regulation meant to greatly reduce risk within the banking system has had the unintended consequence of reducing traditional avenues for lending for small business. As a result, financial institutions have sought other means to mitigate the risk of lending to small businesses. The SBA has been faced with daunting challenges due to administering new programs and loans that congress created to give businesses a lifeline to stay open as we battle the COVID-19 pandemic. Full funding of at least $20 million for State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) grants under section 1207 of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-240). These grants have been instrumental in helping states provide aid to assist small businesses export.
- Full funding for section 1, Cybersecurity of Federal Networks, of the Executive Order on Strengthening the Cybersecurity of Federal Networks and Critical Infrastructure (EO 13800).
- Full funding for the Technology Modernization Fund (TMF), authorized as part of the Modernizing Government Technology (MGT) Act. Federal agencies spend nearly 80% of their total information technology (IT) budgets on maintaining aging, insecure, and expensive legacy systems. Among other things, the TMF will help the federal government improve the cybersecurity posture of its networks and information systems.
- Bringing both the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and Office of Financial Research under the normal appropriations process to ensure accountability.
- Restricting the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) from considering a rulemaking petition on political spending disclosures. Electioneering activities that are the subject of such a rulemaking petition are already disclosed under election law, and such a petition is outside the jurisdiction of the SEC. Furthermore, shareholders have routinely rejected these disclosures when they have been proposed by shareholder resolution. Also, support maintaining the funding restriction that prohibits political spending or campaign activity reporting requirements or regulations as a condition of submitting any federal contract offers.
- Prohibiting the SEC from developing, implementing, finalizing, or enforcing universal proxy ballot proposals, and prohibiting any SEC rulemaking to allow or explore universal proxy ballots.
- Reporting to Congress by financial regulators on their interactions and negotiations with international bodies, Financial Stability Board, Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, International Association of Insurance Supervisors, and the International Organization of Securities Commissions. While global coordination can be beneficial, transparency will help ensure that policy aims are consistent with Congressional intent.
- Funding for the Technology Modernization Fund (TMF) and IRS funding. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need to modernize federal, state, and local government information technology systems. Although we applaud President Biden’s initial call for $9 billion for the TMF, we support the proposed $50 million for the TMF. Additionally, we support increased funding for IRS business system modernization and IRS cybersecurity.
The Chamber opposes the following provisions:
- Sec. 540. This section would prevent the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) from implementing reforms to proxy advisory firms that were finalized on July 22, 2020. These new rules and guidance provide oversight of proxy advisory firms, transparency on proxy advice, and ending conflicts of interest. These reforms are in the best interest of businesses and shareholders.
We thank the Committee for providing the federal agencies with the resources needed to assist consumers, ensure the integrity of our markets, and support small businesses. The SBA has been on the front line for over a year assisting small businesses with new loan products to help employers meet payroll and to provide guidance during the global pandemic. The Chamber appreciates your consideration of these recommendations as you prepare to mark up the Fiscal Year 2022 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill.
Neil L. Bradley
cc: Members of the House Committee on Appropriations