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Mrs. GILLIBRAND. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
First, I would like to thank my fellow New York colleague, Chairwoman Velázquez, for her leadership on this bill and for her constant effort to help our small businesses grow and prosper in America.
Small businesses are the foundation of upstate New York's economy. Small businesses represent over 99 percent of all employers and half of all private sector employees. More importantly, small businesses generate up to 80 percent of new jobs in America.
The bill that is on the floor today would allow upstate New York's small businesses to have increased opportunities to compete for Federal contracts against larger companies. Last year small businesses received only 21.5 percent of Federal contracts, which is much too small; and I look forward to this bill's passing on the floor that will allow our small businesses, especially disabled veteran-owned businesses, to compete for Federal contracts.
My amendment to this bill is very simple: businesses that continue to break the law by hiring illegal aliens should not be eligible for Federal contracts.
Mr. Chairman, we must reward businesses that play by the rules and punish those who do not. It is important that we fix our broken immigration system, and an important component of that is to cut off availability of jobs for undocumented workers, which can only be done when employers refuse to hire them. There are an estimated 12 million illegal aliens in this country; and if jobs are not available to them, then there will not be an incentive for them to come or remain here in America illegally. Hiring illegal aliens is against the law in America, and my amendment ensures that employers who knowingly hire illegal aliens cannot have access to the over $400 billion in Federal contracts that are awarded each year. This amendment will ensure accountability with taxpayers' money by preventing businesses who hire illegal aliens from receiving Federal contracts.
I urge my colleagues to vote ``yes.''
Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.
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