The Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Supportive Services Expansion Act would increase the annual funding cap for the FHWA’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Supportive Services Program from $10 million to $25 million.   -  Photo: Canva

The Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Supportive Services Expansion Act would increase the annual funding cap for the FHWA’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Supportive Services Program from $10 million to $25 million. 

Photo: Canva

As billions of dollars are released through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) announced he has introduced a pair of bills that would help minority- and women-owned businesses compete for contracts to develop and build federal infrastructure projects.

The Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Supportive Services Expansion Act and the Accelerating Small Business Growth Act would help agencies work toward President Biden’s new goal of increasing the share of federal contracts going to small, disadvantaged businesses by 50% by 2025, which would translate to an additional $100 billion for these businesses.

The bills would raise the annual funding cap of the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Supportive Services Program, replicate the program at the Federal Transit Agency (FTA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and create a grant program to help transportation agencies work with underserved businesses looking to improve growth and competitiveness for contracts.

Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) is cosponsoring the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Supportive Services Expansion Act.

Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Supportive Services Expansion Act

The Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Supportive Services Expansion Act would increase the annual funding cap for the FHWA’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Supportive Services Program from $10 million to $25 million.

This program provides training, assistance, and services to minority- and women-owned businesses to train them to viably compete for federally assisted highway project contracts, but Congress has not raised the annual funding cap for this program since 1973. 

The legislation would also establish Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Supportive Services Programs at the FAA and FTA. The bill is being led in the House by Representative Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.-33). 

Accelerating Small Business Growth Act

The Accelerating Small Business Growth Act would create a grant program to fund transportation agency programs to help underserved businesses grow and compete on an equal basis for contracts and subcontracts in federally funded transportation projects.

Agencies that receive funding through this program would be required to submit reports to the USDOT evaluating the effectiveness of their activities, which would help inform future federal procurement policymaking.

This bill would authorize $5 million per year from Fiscal Years 2024-2026 for the grant program. The bill is being led in the House by Representative Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.-34).

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