Last night, the House of Representatives passed a floor amendment offered by Congressman Mark S. Critz (PA-12) to require an analysis of the cumulative impact on small businesses of any rule stemming from the implementation of a Free Trade Agreement.
"Trade is critical to the growth of small businesses," said Congressman Critz, noting that a quarter of a million U.S. companies export to foreign markets, the large majority of them small and medium-sized businesses. "We must make sure that trade agreements assist small businesses by reducing red tape and increasing transparency because too often small businesses lack the resources and foreign business partners to navigate through opaque customs and legal systems to reach their customers."
The Critz Amendment, which passed by voice vote, requires that agencies' regulatory flexibility analyses assess the cumulative impact of any rule stemming from the implementation of a Free Trade Agreement. Doing so will make certain that small firms' voices are part of the process in these important deliberations.
"My amendment makes sure that small businesses are not forgotten when trade agreements are implemented," added Congressman Critz. "Our workers and businesses deserve to know that we are standing up for them in the global marketplace, and being part of the process will enable small businesses to benefit from trade agreements and access to foreign markets and customers."
The Critz Amendment was attached to the Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act of 2011 (H.R. 527), which passed the House yesterday 263-159. The legislation expands the review that agencies must conduct before issuing new regulations and expands the review they must conduct of existing rules to include an evaluation of the "indirect" costs of regulations, especially to Small Businesses.
In addition to the amendment offered on the House Floor yesterday, Congressman Critz, Ranking Member of the House Small Business Committee's Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy and Trade, offered an amendment during Committee markup of the legislation in July. The Critz Amendment, which passed the Committee and was included in the bill that passed the House yesterday, would require that reports issued by small business advocacy review panels include an assessment of a proposed rule's impact on the cost of energy to small businesses. Volatility and fluctuations in energy prices and supply disproportionately impacts small businesses, and this amendment will provide agencies with vital information as to how a regulation could be modified so that small businesses can incur lower energy costs.