Sen. Jerry Moran on Startup Act 2.0

2011 Official Headshot  Senator Jerry Moran

With the House of Representatives introducing parallel legislation to the previously-introduced Senate bill, Startup Act 2.0, this morning, we took the opportunity to sit down with Kansas Senator Jerry Moran to talk about the bill and its prospects. Moran, one of the original sponsors of the Senate bill, and a formidable advocate for entrepreneurship and startups in the Senate, spoke about his views on the bill, the issues, the chances of passing the bill and more.

Tell us a little bit about the Startup Act 2.0. How does it compare to the original Startup Act and what’s new and better about this version?

Startup Act 2.0 is a bipartisan jobs bill written to spur economic growth by targeting policies toward the young companies that are responsible for creating almost all of the net new jobs in America. It contains many of the provisions of the original Startup Act but also adds two new job-creating ideas.

Startup Act 2.0 incorporates language from the Coons-Rubio AGREE Act to eliminate the per-country cap for employment-based immigrant visas, which has been a major factor in causing the backlogs that currently hamstring our legal immigration system.

In addition to eliminating the per-country caps, Startup Act 2.0 creates a targeted research and development (R&D) tax credit for startups less than five years old with less than $5 million in annual receipts. Because the current R&D credit can only be used against income taxes a company pays, startups without taxable profits cannot benefit from the credit. The R&D credit created in Startup Act 2.0 is designed to allow startups to offset employee taxes—helping these young companies grow and create jobs.

How does Startup Act 2.0 help small- and medium-sized companies and startups?

To build a successful startup, an entrepreneur needs a good idea, talented employees, capital, and an environment that fosters growth. Startup Act 2.0 creates new opportunities for talented foreign- born students and workers to stay in America so that they can employ their skills at innovative startups. It also makes smart changes to the tax code that will encourage investment in startups and will reform the federal regulatory process so that entrepreneurs can spend more time growing their company rather than trying to comply with government mandates.

The Startup Act seems pretty uncontroversial -- after all, who is going to argue with enabling job creation in a post-recession America? What kind of shot at getting this legislation passed this year do we really have, and how can Engine and its members help make this happen?

Many Washington critics say nothing gets done in an election year. Yet, our country cannot wait another 6 months or more to act on commonsense job creating ideas. Other countries are not taking this year off and Congress shouldn’t either. Since March 2012, seven countries have changed their laws to attract talent or offer incentives for entrepreneurs and new companies. This is an urgent issue that demands attention now.


Given the stalled immigration bill proposed by Rep. Chaffetz, passed in the House but stalled in the Senate, it seems like there could be definite roadblocks for the Startup Act. Are there some things that are more likely to pass than others? Is this an all or nothing kind of deal? What kind of opposition do you anticipate and what are you planning to do to give this legislation the best chance of passing?

Startup Act 2.0 is more than an immigration bill - it is the jobs package of this Congress. As unemployment remains above 8 percent for nearly 40 months, Americans are losing faith that Congress can help our struggling economy. Despite the hyper-partisan environment in Washington, this legislation has strong bipartisan support in both chambers. Additionally, Startup Act 2.0 creates American jobs at little to no cost to taxpayers, making the package attractive to many members concerned about our country’s fiscal situation.