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House passes small business contracting bills

Eight bills aimed at making it easier for small businesses to win federal contracts won approval earlier this month in the House of Representatives. But the legislation's fate is uncertain because the measures are attached to a defense spending bill that President Barack Obama has threatened to veto.

The $642 billion defense bill passed the House by a vote of 229-120. It goes next to the Senate, which is expected to make changes in the defense spending proposals. Obama has threatened to veto the bill, which departs significantly from his proposed Pentagon budget.

The eight contracting bills were attached to the defense bill because doing so guaranteed that they'd make it to the House floor, said D.J. Jordan, spokesman for the House Small Business Committee, which sponsored the bills. He said it also made sense for them to be attached to the bill because 70 percent of federal contracts are made by the Pentagon. Thousands of bills introduced in Congress each year never make it to a full House or Senate vote.

The contracting bills include:

—The Government Efficiency Through Small Business Contracting Act, which would raise to 25 percent the amount of federal contracting dollars that should go to small businesses. Under current law, the figure is 23 percent.

—The Small Business Advocate Act, which would make it easier for the Offices of Small and DisadvantagedBusiness Utilization in federal agencies to advocate for small business contracts.

—The Subcontracting Transparency and Reliability Act, which intends to make it easier for the government to stop large businesses from winning contracts by using small companies to front for them and would allow more small businesses to team up to win contracts.

—The Small Business Opportunity Act, which would make small business advocates part of the federal contracting process.

—The Building Better Business Partnerships Act, which would Allow the Small Business Administration to oversee 13 current mentorship programs for small businesses.

—The Small Business Protection Act, which would revamp the SBA's size standards, or the measure it uses to determine what a small business is.

—The Contractor Opportunity Protection Act, which would overhaul the appeals process for contract bundling. Bundling is the process that brings a number of small companies together to provide goods or services to fulfill one large government contract. Often they are subcontractors of larger companies.

—The Contracting Oversight for Small Business Jobs Act, which is intended to fight fraud in contracting.

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