Small Business Owners Need the Senate to Do Its Job

Small business owners create two-thirds of new jobs each year because they go to work each day and do their jobs. Unfortunately, they’re continually being short-changed by a Congress that refuses to do its job. From government shutdowns to fiscal cliffs, this Congress has continually endangered entrepreneurs by promoting government dysfunction. Now, the U.S. Senate is once again flirting with disaster by refusing to hold a confirmation hearing for President Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court. Without a full court to rule on cases with profound business implications, entrepreneurs will be left in limbo. Small business owners deserve for the U.S. Senate to hold a timely hearing so we can move forward with a fully functioning court as quickly as possible.

Following the Supreme Court vacancy, President Obama moved quickly to nominate federal judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. Some business groups have come out swinging against Garland’s record, but whether one supports Garland’s record and his placement on the court is unimportant. What is important is that he receives a timely up-or-down vote so we can fill the Supreme Court as quickly as possible.

An eight-person Supreme Court can’t function effectively. If the high court continues to operate with a vacancy, many of its most important cases will almost undoubtedly result in a 4–4 split. This means that crucial issues facing the small business community — ranging from immigration to patent reform — could remain unresolved, resulting in an uncertain business environment for entrepreneurs.

Yet, Congress insists on playing politics with this decision and refusing to even grant a confirmation hearing for Garland. Many members of Congress are arguing that we must wait until the next president is in office to hold a hearing on a nominee, but that’s not what the facts say. Since 1900, the Senate has confirmed six Supreme Court nominees during an election year, and there’s no precedent for refusing to nominate a justice during an election year. The longest confirmation timeframe was 125 days, and there remain more than 200 days left in President Obama’s term. Confirming a new member of the Supreme Court during this timeframe is more than attainable.

Many small business owners are fed up with the Senate’s continued willingness to prioritize politics over doing its job. Years of showdowns and delayed presidential appointments have left small business owners facing the frustrating fallout of government dysfunction. Small Business Majority’s polling found 53 percent of small business owners believe the president’s nominations to key government positions like judgeships and government agencies deserve timely up or down votes from the Senate, compared to 30 percent who did not believe this.

Steve White, owner of Business Strategies Corp. in Sarasota, Fla., is a small business owner who shares this concern.

“The Supreme Court is an important, co-equal branch of the government, and we need it to function,” said White. “A vacancy on the court will leave cases unresolved for two terms and small business owners without a path forward on key issues. We have a polarized Congress that isn’t doing its job.”

Considering the level of concern among small business owners on this issue, Small Business Majority held a panel on the Supreme Court vacancy at our second annual Small Business Leadership Summit, which brought together more than 150 small business owners from around the country to D.C. to meet with policymakers and discuss key issues facing small businesses. Members of the panel, which included legal experts and a small business owner, emphasized that this vacancy is unprecedented and has the potential to create economic uncertainty.

The Supreme Court vacancy impacts small businesses, and they need to be included in this conversation. To help small business owners make their voices heard, Small Business Majority has launched a pledge that small business owners can sign to show their support for holding a hearing: smallbizsaydoyourjob.com. To date, more than 200 small business owners have already added their names.

Small business owners are sending a clear message that the Senate needs to do its job by holding a hearing to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court. If the Senate does its job, small business owners will have the tools they need to do theirs.