240201 Coalition Regulatory Flexibility Act House SBC House Judiciary

Thomas M. Sullivan Thomas M. Sullivan
Vice President, Small Business Policy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce


February 01, 2024


Re: Small Business Input in Federal Rulemaking

Dear Chairmen Williams and Jordan and Ranking Members Velazquez and Nadler:

On behalf of millions of small businesses across the country, we urge legislative action to strengthen the meaningful input of small businesses in federal regulatory processes and ensure the intent of the Regulatory Flexibility Act is fulfilled.

The Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) of 1980 was signed into law after a bipartisan coalition of small businesses, community leaders, and elected representatives confronted the danger of imposing burdensome red tape on American small businesses. Upon signing the RFA into law, President Carter stated that “small businesses are vital to the growth and to the future of our country” and that regulations “can impose a disproportionate and unfair burden on small businesses.”

The RFA sought to correct this disproportionate burden on small businesses by encouraging federal regulatory agencies to transparently consider the impact of new mandates on small businesses and to minimize negative impacts without compromising the underlying regulatory objectives.

Unfortunately, loopholes in the RFA allow federal regulators to bypass the law’s requirements and misrepresent the costs of new mandates on small businesses because (a) transparency requirements only apply to businesses directly regulated and (b) judges may not punish agencies for ignoring small business concerns. 

Federal agencies have on numerous occasions failed to comply with requirements under the RFA. In 2023, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) reviewed comment letters from the Office of Advocacy at the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the independent office responsible for overseeing compliance with the RFA, from the 117th Congress and found 28 instances where SBA’s Office of Advocacy cited agencies for lack of RFA compliance. SBA’s Office of Advocacy found agencies often improperly certify that rules will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities, only consider the direct costs on small businesses, or misrepresent the costs on small businesses from regulation.

For example, SBA’s Office of Advocacy found the Department of Labor’s analysis of the impact of its independent contractor rule “deficient” because it "severely underestimate[d]” the economic impacts of the rule on small business; and “failed to estimate any costs” for small businesses to reclassify independent contractors as employees.

Agency exploitation of the loophole that only requires publishing small business impacts for directly regulated businesses is apparent in the ongoing Basel III Endgame rulemaking.  Bank regulators published their perceived impact on large banks but did not publish how new mandates will make small business loans more expensive. 

The Environmental Protection Agency/Army Corps of Engineers Waters of the United States (WOTUS) final rule is a case study in agency misrepresentation of a regulation’s costs on small businesses. In their rule, the agencies certified the rule “will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.” For decades, bipartisan administrations have claimed that revising the WOTUS definition will not harm small businesses. Yet the millions of farmers, homebuilders, and other industries heavily dominated by small businesses render such a “certification” implausible. Moreover, they highlight a major problem – small businesses lack the legal recourse to force regulators to take them seriously and judges’ hands are tied when it comes to holding agencies accountable to small business concerns.

Unfortunately, the concerns raised in this letter are not new. In fact, SBA’s Office of Advocacy has sought to close the loopholes over the past 40 years but has not been successful.

Our concern that small businesses are being shut out of the regulatory process are amplified by recent data showing the growth of federal red tape.  The National Association of Manufacturers’ most recent study on the cost of regulation shows that the cost per employee to comply with federal regulations is three times greater for small firms than the average costs for manufacturers.  Former CBO Director, Douglas Holtz-Eakin recently testified before the Small Business Committee that the costs from regulatory mandates currently being issued are fifty percent greater than under any previous administration.

At a time when we are counting on small business growth to enrich communities and bolster America’s economy, we cannot afford to bury free enterprise under red tape emanating from Washington.

We urge the Committee to prioritize legislation that strengthens and closes loopholes in the Regulatory Flexibility Act.

We thank you for your leadership to create an environment where small businesses can operate, invest and grow. We look forward to working with you on ways to reduce red tape and burdens for small businesses.



Alliance for Chemical Distribution   

American Bakers Association

American Bankers Association

American Chemistry Council

American Farm Bureau Federation   

American Foundry Society    

American Hotel and Lodging Association    

American Land Title Association      

American Road & Transportation Builders Association    

Associated Builders and Contractors

Associated Equipment Distributors   

Associated General Contractors of America 

Associated Wire Rope Fabricators    

Brick Industry Association    

Consumer Bankers Association         

Consumer Brands Association           

Council for Responsible Nutrition    

FMI - The Food Industry Association           

Independent Electrical Contractors   

Independent Lubricant Manufacturers Association    

Independent Petroleum Association of America         

Innovative Lending Platform Association     

International Franchise Association  

International Sign Association          

Job Creators Network

Leading Builders of America

Metals Service Center Institute         

National Association for Surface Finishing   

National Association of Home Builders        

National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors   

National Association of Wholesaler - Distributors    

National Automobile Dealers Association    

National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB)        

National Funeral Directors Association        

National Mining Association 

National Parking Association

National Retail Federation    

National Roofing Contractors Association    

National Rural Electric Cooperative Association    

National Small Business Association (NSBA)          

National Stone Sand & Gravel Association  

National U.S. India Chamber of Commerce 

Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council

Small Business Investor Alliance

The Toy Association  

Treated Wood Council

U.S. Chamber of Commerce 



Albertville Chamber of Commerce

Central Baldwin Chamber of Commerce



Chandler Chamber of Commerce      

Greater Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce     

Greater Phoenix Chamber

Lake Havasu Area Chamber of Commerce

Nogales Santa Cruz County Chamber of Commerce

Northwest Valley Chamber of Commerce

Tucson Metro Chamber



Holiday Island Chamber of Commerce         



Buellton Chamber of Commerce      

Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce      

Coalition of California Chambers - Orange County

Fremont Chamber of Commerce       

La Verne Chamber of Commerce      

Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce    

Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce    

Palos Verdes Peninsula Chamber of Commerce

Rancho Cordova Area Chamber of Commerce

San Juan Capistrano Chamber of Commerce

Western States Trucking Association

Yorba Linda Chamber of Commerce



Alamosa County Chamber of Commerce

Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce

Greater Woodland Park Chamber

Vail Valley Partnership


Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce

Lakeland Chamber of Commerce



Habersham County Chamber of Commerce

Murray County Chamber of Commerce       



Guam Chamber of Commerce



Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce

Jerome Chamber of Commerce

Pocatello-Chubbuck Chamber of Commerce, Inc.



Dixon Chamber of Commerce & Main Street

Edwardsville/Glen Carbon Chamber of Commerce

GLMV Chamber of Commerce

Greater Rockford Chamber of Commerce

Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry

Sauk Valley Area Chamber of Commerce

The Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce

West Suburban Chamber of Commerce & Industry



Crossroads Chamber  Indiana

Indiana Chamber of Commerce

South Bend Regional Chamber


Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce


Grant County Chamber of Commerce          

Greater Topeka Chamber       



Greenwood Chamber of Commerce  



Talbot County Chamber of Commerce         



Metro South Chamber of Commerce



Battle Creek Area Chamber of Commerce    

Detroit Regional Chamber

Hartland Area Chamber of Commerce          

Jackson County Chamber of Commerce       

Oscoda-AuSable Chamber of Commerce



Greater Mankato Growth

Minnesota Chamber of Commerce   



Hancock County Chamber of Commerce     



Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce



Billings Chamber of Commerce        

Montana Chamber of Commerce      



Vegas Chamber

New Jersey

New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce


New York

Capital Region Chamber

North Country Chamber of Commerce         

Sullivan County Chamber of Commerce      


North Carolina

The Caldwell Chamber          


North Dakota

Greater North Dakota Chamber



Broken Arrow Chamber of Commerce         

Edmond Area Chamber of Commerce          



Canby Area Chamber of Commerce 

Gresham Area Chamber of Commerce         

Lincoln City Chamber of Commerce

Oregon Business & Industry 

Roseburg Area Chamber of Commerce        



Blair County Chamber of Commerce

Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce

Hanover Area Chamber of Commerce          

Harrisburg Regional Chamber           

Huntingdon County Chamber of Commerce

Lancaster Chamber of Commerce

Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry

Pittsburgh Airport Area Chamber of Commerce

Schuylkill Chamber of Commerce

South Carolina

Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce   


Alvin-Manvel Area Chamber of Commerce 

Coppell Chamber of Commerce        

Irving Hispanic Chamber of Commerce



ChamberWest Chamber of Commerce          

Salt Lake Chamber    

St. George Area Chamber of Commerce      



Central Fairfax Chamber of Commerce        

Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce     



Burlington Chamber of Commerce   

Greater Lake Stevens Chamber of Commerce

Mercer Island Chamber of Commerce          

Pullman Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center   

Shelton-Mason County Chamber of Commerce     



Casper Area Chamber of Commerce 

Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce   

Riverton Chamber and Visitors Center         

Rock Springs Chamber of Commerce           

Wyoming State Chamber of Commerce      

cc: Members of the Committee on Small Business

        Members of the Committee on the Judiciary

240201 Coalition Regulatory Flexibility Act House SBC House Judiciary

About the authors

Thomas M. Sullivan

Thomas M. Sullivan

Thomas M. Sullivan is vice president of small business policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Working with chambers of commerce and the U.S. Chamber’s nationwide network, Sullivan harnesses the views of small businesses and translates that grassroots power into federal policies that bolster free enterprise and reward entrepreneurship. He runs the U.S.

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