What Small Business Can Expect From the New Congress

Date: November 14, 2014 Last Edit: September 07, 2016

From healthcare to regulations, we look at what the 2014 midterm election results mean for your small business.

Small businesses will soon have more advocates in Congress who will push for the issues that matter most to Main Street, thanks to the 2014 midterm election.

“It was great to see pro-small business candidates win on issues that NFIB members and small businesses care about,” says Brad Close, NFIB’s senior vice president of public policy and advocacy. “It was a great contrast with most of these sitting senators who lost and didn’t support small business on key issues like regulatory reform, healthcare and taxes. The candidates who won were with NFIB on all of those issues.” 

With Republicans in control of the Senate, bills relating to small business issues that can pass with a few Democratic votes should move through Congress quickly, Close says. However, they’ll face President Barack Obama’s veto pen.

“Hopefully, Obama will sign some of these into law,” Close says. “If not, it will serve the purpose of highlighting the difference between the president’s policies and some of the issues NFIB supports. But I think we’ll see some good stuff pass the Senate early on, some issues that NFIB members really care about.”

Such issues include:

1. The Affordable Care Act

There will be a strong push to repeal the 30-hour workweek standard for full-time employees that was created under the Affordable Care Act, Close says. The 30-hour standard has forced employees to work fewer hours and earn less money, as employers cut hours to avoid providing mandated healthcare coverage. “At the end of the day, it really hurt part-time employees,” Close says. “ I think that’s something that will change, and NFIB has been leading the charge [in lobbying for it].”

2. Deductions for Business Equipment Purchases

There’s likely to be broad support in Congress for a permanent extension of the Section 179 tax deduction, which allows small businesses to deduct the cost of certain equipment purchased for its company in one year, rather than allow it to depreciate. The deduction amount was $500,000 in 2013 and was reduced to $25,000 in 2014. There’s a chance Congress could increase it to the $500,000 level by Dec. 31. “It’s one of NFIB’s key priorities to get that [higher amount] restored and make that permanent,” Close says.

3. Environmental Regulations

Congress will also focus on regulations that are harmful to small business, particularly those from the Environmental Protection Agency. Close says he expects to see a strong vote prohibiting the EPA from changing the Clean Water Act’s definition of a wetland to include any land that has water overflow during any point of the year, thereby expanding the EPA’s jurisdiction. He also expects a quick vote on approving the Keystone Pipeline’s expansion. 

Close also says there is likely to be a strong vote on forcing government agencies to study both the direct and indirect impact of the EPA’s proposals on small business—something government agencies have a tendency to dismiss. 

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