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Ranking Member Velázquez’s Statement on Recent Court Decisions Impacting SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program

Washington, D.C.— On July 19, 2023, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee issued a decision in Ultima Servs. Corp. v. U.S. Department of Agriculture, enjoining the Small Business Administration (SBA) from using the rebuttable presumption of social disadvantage in the 8(a) program. The SBA has implemented a new process for current and future 8(a) program participants to comply with the court decision. Today, House Small Business Committee Ranking Member Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) released the following statement on recent court decisions regarding 8(a):
       “In my more than two decades as the top Democrat on the House Small Business Committee, I have seen firsthand the ingenuity and resilience of small business owners, not only in my district but across the nation. The challenges of starting and growing a business are immense. For small contractors who support the federal government, the largest buyer of goods and services globally, there are added complexities and barriers to competing for and winning contracts in this market.   
       “To level the playing field, Congress has put in place many programs that help ensure small government contractors have the right tools to compete. The 8(a) program is one of those tools. It has proven critical for minority business owners who have faced obstacles and barriers to entry because of discrimination.
       “When I took the gavel in 2019, we held a series of hearings and roundtables on the challenges still facing minority-owned firms in the procurement marketplace—even with the presence of the 8(a) program. These conversations made it abundantly clear that 8(a) still serves a vital purpose. 
       “The very real and continued need for these types of programs makes the Ultima decision disappointing and frustrating. It sets back efforts to address historical disparities and compensate for discrimination against minority-business owners. 
       “The SBA has imposed remedial actions to align the 8(a) program with the court ruling to allow for its continuation. The committee hopes that all firms eligible for the 8(a) program will continue to participate, and that SBA will review each firm’s narrative fairly and expeditiously.  
       “As the case continues to move forward, the committee expects that the SBA and DOJ respond in a manner that ensures small businesses continue to have access to this critical tool. The committee is prepared to use any and all options available to us to protect the integrity and intent of the 8(a) program.”
Below you will find resources for small businesses impacted by recent changes to the 8(a) program:
1. 8(a) Business Development Program
2. SBA Releases Interim Guidance to 8(a) Program Participants in Light of Lower Court Ruling
4. Guide for Writing a Social Disadvantage Narrative
5. 8(a) Review Documents
6. Memorandum of Civilian Agencies, Impact of Recent Court Decision on the use of the 8(a) Program
7. DoD Class Deviation—Verification of Eligibility for the 8(a) Program



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