Spending Bill Halts Women's Contracting Plan

The spending bill signed into law this week by President Obama stops a controversial regulation that critics said would have limited opportunities for women to compete in the federal marketplace.

"President Obama has made clear that women's opportunities to compete for their fair share of federal contracts will be a priority from now on," said Rep. Nydia Velázquez, chairwoman of the House Small Business Committee and a Democrat from New York.

Law mandates that government agencies must award at least 5 percent of federal contracts to women-owned businesses, however that goal has never been met. The proposed rule -- which was reversed this week -- said women were under represented in contracting agreements in just four out of 140 recognized industries. That proposal was met with staunch criticism because it meant that only women-owned businesses in those four arenas would be eligible for contracting assistance.

Lobbying group Women Impacting Public Policy, which had strongly opposed the proposed rule, applauded the decision.

"From the beginning WIPP members have worked tirelessly to stop this ill-conceived rule and advocated for its withdrawn," said group President Barbara Kasoff. "We look forward to working with the new SBA leadership and Congress on a meaningful women's procurement program which reflects Congress' original intent."

Velazquez and the leaders of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee had publicly voiced their disapproval of the proposed rule.

By Sharon McLoone |  March 13, 2009; 11:00 AM ET Policymakers , Regulation Legislation
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