Padilla, Aguilar Provisions to Boost Minority- and Women-Owned Businesses Included in FAA Reauthorization

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Key provisions from U.S. Senator Alex Padilla’s (D-Calif.) bill, which he co-led with Representatives Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.-33) and Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.-34), to support minority- and women-owned businesses were signed into law by President Joe Biden.

The provisions from the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Supportive Services Expansion Act, which were incorporated into the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2024, will create a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program in the FAA. The DBE program will address ongoing and past discrimination in the transportation industry and aims to level the playing field for minority- and women-owned businesses who are competing for federal contracts in airport-related businesses.

“Minority- and women-owned small businesses hold enormous potential to bolster our economy, but they have historically faced increased barriers to success,” said Senator Padilla. “Our bill will provide critical resources to help women and minority entrepreneurs effectively compete for federal contracts. This legislation, along with the unprecedented investment in American infrastructure from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will help build prosperity in communities that have too often been left behind.”

“Small businesses play a key role in bolstering local economies in the Inland Empire and across the country, and it’s critical that woman- and minority-owned small businesses have the resources they need to flourish,” said Representative Aguilar. “The Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program at the Federal Highway Administration is making a significant impact on local small businesses, and I look forward to seeing more minority- and woman-owned businesses succeed in the aviation industry once adopted by the FAA.”

“Now that it has become law, our legislation to empower historically disadvantaged women and minority-owned businesses in the aviation industry will make positive change for communities nationwide. Small businesses are the foundation of a strong economy across all industries, and everyone deserves a fair shot at success. I look forward to seeing how this new policy boosts the air industry and helps under-represented communities thrive,” said Representative Gomez. 

“Small business growth is often limited for minority-owned businesses because of the unique barriers these entrepreneurs face when seeking contract and procurement opportunities,” said John Arensmeyer, Founder & CEO of Small Business Majority. “Small Business Majority is pleased to see concerted efforts to support disadvantaged business enterprises included in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization for 2024. We applaud Senator Alex Padilla and Congressman Pete Aguilar for their important work in securing the provisions that will help bridge opportunity gaps for minority contractors through the FAA. This important step will work toward leveling the playing field for underserved small firms because it will prioritize the businesses that need the most support, making it easier for under-resourced small businesses to navigate the sometimes complex procurement system.”

“AFA Action was thrilled to partner with Senator Padilla, Rep. Aguilar, and Rep. Gomez to develop this critically important policy. America’s small- and medium-sized businesses and their workers make up our nation’s backbone, and we’re grateful to each of these essential Congressional partners for leading the charge to get this provision across the finish line,” said Ross van Dongen, Director of Infrastructure & Intergovernmental Affairs, Accelerator for America Action.

This new law will help accomplish President Biden’s goal of increasing the share of federal contracts going to small, disadvantaged businesses by 50 percent by 2025. This would represent billions more dollars for small businesses and help close the racial wealth gap.

For the past two Congresses, Senator Padilla has introduced the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Supportive Services Expansion Act to increase the annual funding cap for the Federal Highway Administration’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Supportive Services Program and establish Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Supportive Services Programs at the FAA and the Federal Transit Administration.

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