Ranking Member Velázquez
Representative Nydia M. Velázquez has made history several times during her tenure in Congress. In 1992, she was the first Puerto Rican woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and in February of 1998, she was named Ranking Democratic Member of the House Committee on Small Business – the first Hispanic woman to serve as Ranking Member of a full committee in the history of the House. She was named chairwoman of the House Small Business Committee in 2006, making her the first Latina ever to chair a full congressional committee.
As the current Ranking Democractic Member, Representative Velázquez oversees the Small Business Administration (SBA), the only federal agency devoted to supporting this nation’s entrepreneurial sector, and its financing, contracting, and technical assistance programs. She also has oversight of all of the federal agencies’ regulatory and paperwork requirements that impact small firms, as well as federal policies and legislation that affect small businesses.
Throughout her tenure on the committee, she has been a champion on issues of importance to small businesses. Following Hurricane Katrina, Velázquez took the lead in working to ensure small business owners received the disaster assistance they had been promised. She requested several GAO investigations into SBA’s response, invited small business owners from the Gulf Coast to testify in front of the committee on their personal situations, and released several reports on the progress of the disaster loan program following Katrina. These investigations led to the comprenhensive reform of the SBA's disaster programs.
Shortly after Representative Velazquez was named Ranking Democrat of the House Small Business Committee, she worked to pass a bill that was later signed into law and became part of former President Clinton’s “New Markets Initiative," which created the first program to provide both venture capital and technical assistance to aspiring businesses in low and moderate income areas. Congresswoman Velázquez served as President Clinton’s lead sponsor in the House of Representatives on the New Markets Venture Capital legislation, a component of the new initiative. The bill, which may have seemed partisan, passed with overwhelming support.
Representative Velázquez has worked to expand opportunities for women and minority business owners. She created the women’s procurement program, which was signed into law in 2001, that would help female entrepreneurs to receive more contracting opportunities. After a long delay, this program was finally implemented last year.
Although her work on the Small Business Committee and the House Financial Services Committee keeps her busy, Ranking Member Velázquez can often be found close to home, working for the residents of New York's 7th District. Her district encompasses parts of Brooklyn, Queens, and the Lower East Side of Manhattan in New York City, making it one of the most diverse districts in the nation.