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Ms. VELAZQUEZ. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the bill (H.R. 8844) to reauthorize the State Trade Expansion Program of the Small Business Administration, and for other purposes.
The Clerk read the title of the bill.
The text of the bill is as follows: H.R. 8844
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the ``STEP Improvement Act of 2022''. SEC. 2. STATE TRADE EXPANSION PROGRAM.
(a) Application Requirements.--Section 22(l)(3) of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 649(l)(3)) is amended--
(1) in subparagraph (D)--
(A) in clause (i), by inserting ``, including a budget plan for use of funds awarded under this subsection'' before the period at the end; and
(B) by adding at the end the following new clause:
``(iii) Timing.--The Associate Administrator shall--
``(I) publish information on how to apply for a grant under this subsection, including specific calculations and other determinations used to award such a grant, not later than March 31 of each year;
``(II) establish a deadline for the submission of applications that is not earlier than 60 days after the date on which the information is published under subclause (I) and that is not later than May 31; and
``(III) announce grant recipients not later than August 31 of each year.''; and
(2) by adding at the end the following new subparagraphs:
``(E) Application information.--The Associate Administrator shall clearly communicate to applicants and grant recipients any information about State Trade Expansion Program, including--
``(i) for each unsuccessful applicant for a grant awarded under this subsection, recommendations to improve a subsequent application for such a grant; and
``(ii) for each successful applicant for such a grant, an explanation for the amount awarded, if different from the amount requested in the application.
``(F) Budget plan revisions.--
``(i) In general.--A State receiving a grant under this subsection may revise the budget plan of the State submitted under subparagraph (D) after the disbursal of grant funds if--
``(I) the revision complies with allowable uses of grant funds under this subsection; and
``(II) such State submits notification of the revision to the Associate Administrator.
``(ii) Exception.--If a revision under clause (i) reallocates 10 percent or more of the amounts described in the budget plan of the State submitted under subparagraph (D), the State may not implement the revised budget plan without the approval of the Associate Administrator, unless the Associate Administrator fails to approve or deny the revised plan within 20 days after receipt of such revised plan.''.
(b) Survey.--Section 22(l) of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 649(l)) is amended--
(1) by redesignating paragraphs (7) through (9) as paragraphs (8) through (10), respectively; and
(2) by inserting after paragraph (6) the following new paragraph:
``(7) Survey.--The Associate Administrator shall conduct an annual survey of each State that received a grant under this subsection during the preceding year to solicit feedback on the program and develop best practices for grantees.''.
(c) Annual Report.--Section 22(l)(8)(B) of the Small Business Act, as redesignated by subsection (b), is amended--
(1) in clause (i)--
(A) in subclause (III), by inserting ``, including the total number of eligible small business concerns assisted by the program (disaggregated by socially and economically disadvantaged small business concerns, small business concerns owned and controlled by women, and rural small business concerns)'' before the semicolon at the end;
(B) in subclause (IV), by striking ``and'' at the end;
(C) in subclause (V)--
(i) by striking ``description of best practices'' and inserting ``detailed description of best practices''; and
(ii) by striking the period at the end and inserting a semicolon; and
(D) by adding at the end the following new subclauses:
``(VI) an analysis of the performance metrics described in clause (iii), including a determination of whether or not any goals relating to such performance metrics were met, and an analysis of the survey described in paragraph (7); and
``(VII) a description of lessons learned by grant recipients under this subsection that may apply to other assistance provided by the Administration.''; and
(2) by adding at the end the following new clause:
``(iii) Performance metrics.--Annually, the Associate Administrator shall collect data on eligible small business concerns assisted by the program for the following performance metrics:
``(I) Total number of such concerns, disaggregated by socially and economically disadvantaged small business concerns, small business concerns owned and controlled by women, and rural small business concerns.
``(II) Total dollar amount of export sales by eligible small business concerns assisted by the program.
``(III) Number of such concerns that have not previously participated in an activity described in paragraph (2).
``(IV) Number of such concerns that, because of participation in the program, have accessed a new market.
``(V) Number of such concerns that, because of participation in the program, have created new jobs.
``(VI) Number of such concerns participating in foreign trade missions or trade show exhibitions, disaggregated by socially and economically disadvantaged small business concerns, small business concerns owned and controlled by women, and rural small business concerns.''.
(d) Expansion of Definition of Eligible Small Business Concern.--Section 22(l)(1)(A) of the Small Business Act is amended--
(1) in clause (iii)(II), by adding ``and'' at the end;
(2) by striking clause (iv); and
(3) by redesignating clause (v) as clause (iv).
(e) Authorization of Appropriations.--Section 22(l)(10) of the Small Business Act, as redesignated by subsection (b), is amended by striking ``fiscal years 2016 through 2020'' and inserting ``fiscal years 2023 through 2026''.
(f) Report to Congress.--Not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Associate Administrator for International Trade of the Small Business Administration shall submit to Congress a report on the State Trade Expansion Program established under section 22(l) of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 649(l)) that includes a description of--
(1) the process developed for review of revised budget plans submitted under section 22(l)(3)(F) of the Small Business Act, as added by this Act;
(2) any changes made to streamline the application process to remove duplicative requirements and create a more transparent process;
(3) the process developed to share best practices by States described in section 22(l)(8)(B)(i)(V) (as redesignated by this Act), particularly for first-time grant recipients under the State Trade Expansion Program or grant recipients that are facing problems using grant funds; and
(4) the process developed to communicate, both verbally and in writing, relevant information about the State Trade Expansion Program to all grant recipients in a timely manner.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 8844, the STEP Improvement Act of 2022.
This bill reauthorizes the SBA's State Trade Expansion Program, or STEP, as we call it. This program is a proven and effective program that gives small businesses the tools they need to enter and thrive in the global marketplace.
Since its inception in 2010, STEP has helped firms access new markets and support $832 million in export sales in fiscal year 2021 alone.
The program offers grants to all 50 States, U.S. territories, and D.C. This financial assistance aids export-related activities such as developing e-commerce capabilities, participating in export trade shows and foreign trade missions, creating international marketing materials and website globalization.
Our committee held two hearings on STEP this Congress where we heard that demand for the program continues to increase across the country, and improvements could be made to streamline the program.
To that end, the STEP Improvement Act of 2022 authorizes $30 million per year through fiscal year 2026, and mandates a standardized application process, increases grant spending flexibility, improves communication between the SBA and States, and enhances reporting requirements.
The legislation allows businesses less than 1 year old to participate in the program, which would allow STEP to provide services to the most innovative small businesses that are exporting faster than ever before.
The legislation has the strong support of the State International Development Organizations. I thank the bill's sponsors, Mr. Evans, Mrs. Kim of California, Ms. Newman, and Mr. Flood for their continued bipartisan work to improve STEP.
Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 8844, and I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. Speaker, small businesses are truly the bedrock of the American economy, and exporting is one sure way for them to expand their profits at home and their presence overseas.
H.R. 8844 will go a long way in ensuring small employers and entrepreneurs at any stage in their business journey can grow and open the doors to the global marketplace.
By reauthorizing STEP, this legislation ensures that States and their small businesses will face fewer hurdles to participation and greater opportunities.
Once again, I commend my colleagues, Representatives Evans, Kim, and Flood for their hard work on this legislation.
Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to vote ``yes,'' and I yield back the balance of my time.
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