Meng and Salazar Reintroduce Bipartisan Legislation in the House to Help Women Entrepreneurs

Jun 17, 2021
Press Release
Companion measure also introduced in the Senate
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Reps. Grace Meng (D-NY) and Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL) announced today that they reintroduced bipartisan legislation in the House of Representatives to help increase support to female entrepreneurs and women-owned businesses.
The Interagency Committee on Women’s Business Enterprise Act would reauthorize the Interagency Committee on Women’s Business Enterprise (ICWBE), a U.S. government entity charged with coordinating federal resources to help women-owned businesses grow and succeed.
The legislation was also reintroduced in the U.S. Senate by Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL),Tim Scott (R-SC), Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Susan Collins (R-ME).
“It is imperative that we do everything possible to help our small businesses rebound from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, and that includes women-owned businesses,” said Rep. Meng. “Helping women business owners succeed and thrive is a ticket to helping ensure a strong economy as well as creating jobs and spurring innovation, and our bipartisan legislation would make sure that women entrepreneurs can access the critical government resources they need to help them start, grow, and sustain their businesses. Our government must be there to help our women-owned businesses, especially as we work to put COVID-19 in the rearview mirror, and I thank Rep. Salazar, Rep. Houlahan and my Senate colleagues for partnering with me on this crucial bill. I look forward to the measure moving through the House and Senate.”
“Women own 1 in every 3 small businesses and that number has only grown over the last year,” said Rep. Salazar. “We must continue to work together to give women the resources and tools to further fuel this entrepreneurial spirit. I am proud to join Congresswoman Meng in introducing this bipartisan legislation that will build economic strength for women at a time when it is needed most.”
“This pandemic has been devastating for women in the workforce,” said Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), an original cosponsor of the bill. “To rebuild successfully, we must invest in America’s working women. An investment in working women is a guaranteed way to boost our economy, spark job creation, and begin to build a more equitable economy. There’s a reason this legislation is both bipartisan and bicameral – elected leaders recognize the economic importance of supporting working women, particularly in the wake of this pandemic. As an entrepreneur myself, I know firsthand the barriers women face when building a business, and that, despite the passage of time, those barriers are still very much in place. That’s why this legislation is so crucial, so that we can begin to dismantle those barriers and build mechanisms to encourage and support women’s participation in our economy. I am proud to join Representatives Meng and Salazar and Senators Duckworth, Scott, Cardin and Collins on this crucial initiative.”
“As we work to recover from the economic impacts of COVID-19, we should be doing everything we can to help businesses grow and create jobs in their communities, especially women-owned businesses,” said Senator Duckworth. “I’m proud that we’ve come together in a bipartisan manner to introduce this legislation, which would help level the playing field for women entrepreneurs and business owners by making sure they have access to resources across federal agencies. It would also make sure the federal government shares and implements best practices so women can start and expand their businesses and keep contributing to our economy.”
ICWBE was established in 1979 and led several federal agencies in developing policies to help women business owners flourish. It was maintained during both Democratic and Republican administrations but it became inactive in 2000. Since then, no other federal agency has had the authority to help coordinate federal resources for businesses owned by women.
If revived, ICWBE would look at the behavior of federal agencies in how they support, expand, and strengthen resources and programs for women-owned businesses – ultimately making sure that the federal government is doing all it can to support female entrepreneurs.
“WCOE-USA and WCOE's New York chapter strongly support the bill introduced by Representatives Meng and Salazar to revive the Interagency Committee on Women's Business Enterprise,” said Lee Cunningham, Legislative Committee Chair of Women Construction Owners & Executives (WCOE). “This critical entity has been dormant for way too long and must be swiftly restored. More needs to be done to encourage and support new generations of women so they can be successful. Revitalizing the Interagency Committee will renew a focus on the importance of women in business. Representative Meng and Salazar’s bill would ensure resources from key departments and agencies are being used effectively, and it would make sure that the Interagency Committee can carry out its mission to support women-owned businesses.” 
"Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Organization (WEDO) fully supports the Interagency Committee on Women’s Business Enterprise Act,” said Wendy Diamond, Founder of Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Organization (WEDO). “We must remove barriers that are blocking women entrepreneurs from reaching their highest potential and success. For too long, encouraging women entrepreneurs and giving them an equal playing field have been two different things; however, this bill bridges that gap. By eliminating the barriers women face in business, entrepreneurship, and startups, we are creating a more equitable and profitable industry that both supports and encourages more women entrepreneurs.”
The legislation is supported by Women Veterans Business Coalition (WVBC), Small Business Majority, Center for American Entrepreneurship, Women Construction Owners and Executives (WCOEUSA), National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), California Association for Micro Enterprise Opportunity (CAMEO), GovEvolve, HUBZone Contractors National Council, Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce (MCCC) and Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Organization (WEDO).
The bill has been referred to the House Small Business Committee and the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee.