With midterm elections just four months away, the nation's largest small-business lobby is pressing its members to get out the vote in support of small-business health-care plans and a repeal of the estate tax, among other issues.
"It will be important for small business to go to the polls in force," Todd Stottlemyer, head of 600,000-member National Federation of Independent Business, told hundreds of business owners gathered in Washington for the start of the group's biannual small-business summit on Monday. "This is not a year to be complacent."
In recent months, two key initiatives the NFIB has fought long for — small-business health-care plans and a repeal of the estate tax — died in separate bills on the Senate floor in procedural votes largely along party lines.
Both were backed by Republicans, and failed by only a handful of votes.
Despite those failures, Stottlemyer vowed to keep the initiatives alive, while urging small-business owners to vote on the issues, rather than political parties.
"We will stand with those who stand with us and America's small businesses, regardless of political party affiliation," Stottlemyer said.
According to an NFIB survey conducted earlier this year, a full 95 percent of its members are already registered to vote on Nov. 7. About 84 percent said they cast ballots in the previous elections, the survey showed.
This week's three-day summit, held every two years since 1998, is about "going to Capitol Hill and telling your representatives and senators — face-to-face — about the pressing issues that affect your business and what you want them to do," Stottlemyer said.
Later this week, members will meet with congressional lawmakers and administration leaders on Capitol Hill, including Sens. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., and Ben Nelson, D-Neb., co-sponsors of the Senate Small-Business Health Plan bill.
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