Par­ties wran­gle to get credit for leg­is­la­tion

Jobs Act pack­age aids econ­omy with six bills

The Washington Times Daily - - Politics - BY SEAN LENGELL

Leave it to Washington to pick a fight over non­con­tro­ver­sial leg­is­la­tion ev­ery­one loves.

With a bi­par­ti­san, White House-backed pack­age aimed at help­ing small busi­nesses eas­ily pass­ing the House last week and poised for sim­i­lar suc­cess in the Se­nate, both par­ties and the ad­min­is­tra­tion are scram­bling to claim credit for its pend­ing suc­cess.

House Repub­li­cans have touted their Jobs Act, a bun­dle of six bills — three of which passed the House last year with over­whelm­ing bi­par­ti­san sup­port — as a sig­nif­i­cant step to­ward jump-start­ing the still slug­gish econ­omy.

“The pres­i­dent asked us in his State of the Union ad­dress to send him a bill that helps busi­ness star­tups. The Jobs Act does just that,” House Ma­jor­ity Leader Eric Can­tor, Virginia Re­pub­li­can, said mo­ments af­ter the mea­sure passed Thurs­day by a vote of 390-23.

The pack­age is aimed at eas­ing Se­cu­ri­ties and Ex­change Com­mis­sion reg­u­la­tions and giv­ing small busi­nesses bet­ter ac­cess to cap­i­tal.

One of the bills would make it eas­ier for small busi­nesses to go public by in­creas­ing the of­fer­ing thresh­old for com­pa­nies ex­empted from SEC reg­is­tra­tion to $50 mil­lion from $5 mil­lion.

The mea­sure passed the House in Novem­ber by a vote of 421-1, though it hasn’t come up for a vote in the Se­nate.

An­other mea­sure would lift an SEC ban pre­vent­ing small busi­nesses from us­ing ad­ver­tise­ments to so­licit in­vestors, while still an­other would al­low busi­nesses to re­cruit more in­vestors with­out hav­ing to file as a public com­pany.

But Democrats have ac­cused Repub­li­cans of pla­gia­riz­ing, say­ing that a bill in the pack­age spon­sored by Rep. Ben­jamin Quayle, Ari­zona Re­pub­li­can, that would al­low com­mu­nity banks to avoid reg­is­ter­ing with the SEC closely re­sem­bles a Demo­cratic bill that over­whelm­ing passed the House last year.

Rep. Jeb Hen­sar­ling, Texas Re­pub­li­can, and Rep. Bar­ney Frank of Mas­sachusetts, the rank­ing Demo­crat on the House Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices Com­mit­tee, ar­gued on the House floor Wed­nes­day re­gard­ing who should take credit for the Quayle bill.

“Pres­i­dent Rea­gan once said there’s no limit to what the Amer­i­can peo­ple can achieve if they don’t mind who gets the credit,” Mr. Hen­sar­ling said. “We seem to hear the rank­ing mem­ber say; ‘If I and my friends can’t take credit, we’re go­ing to pick up our toys and go home.’ ”

Mr. Frank shot back, ac­cus­ing the Texas Re­pub­li­can of en­gag­ing in a “shame­ful ma­neu­ver.”

“To now ac­cuse [Democrats] of be­ing ex­ces­sively con­cerned with credit is the most hyp­o­crit­i­cal and dis­hon­est state­ment I have heard ut­tered in this House,” he said.

Mr. Frank’s com­ments were deemed “of­fend­ing” and stricken from the of­fi­cial record.

House Mi­nor­ity Leader Nancy Pelosi, Cal­i­for­nia Demo­crat, while vot­ing for the pack­age, chided Repub­li­cans for tout­ing the mea­sure as a ma­jor jobs-en­hanc­ing ini­tia­tive, call­ing it “jobs bill light.”

“It’s so mea­ger,” she said. “Yes, it’s a good thing . . . but let’s not mis­take it for what we need to do for a real se­ri­ous, com­pre­hen­sive jobs bill for our coun­try.”

The pack­age has broad sup­port in the Se­nate, though Democrats there want to put their own stamp on it.

“I’m not here to be­moan and say the House bill is very bad, be­cause it’s a step for­ward,” said Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Harry Reid, Ne­vada Demo­crat. But “we’ll come up with our own bill and we’ll move as quickly as we can on that leg­is­la­tion.”

The White House last week is­sued a state­ment sup­port­ing the House pack­age but added that Pres­i­dent Obama al­ready pro­posed sev­eral ini­tia­tives to help small busi­nesses, items he in­cluded in an ad­dress to Congress last Septem­ber and in his Startup Amer­ica Leg­isla­tive Agenda he sent to Capi­tol Hill last month.

“In both the speech and the agenda, the pres­i­dent called for cut­ting the red tape that pre­vents many rapidly grow­ing startup com­pa­nies from rais­ing needed cap­i­tal,” the state­ment said. “The pres­i­dent is en­cour­aged to see that there is com­mon ground be­tween his ap­proach and some of the pro­pos­als in” the House mea­sure.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS PHO­TO­GRAPHS

Rep. Bar­ney Frank of Mas­sachusetts (above), rank­ing Demo­crat on the House Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices Com­mit­tee, got worked up over who de­serves credit for a bill that as­sists com­mu­nity banks. Rep. Jeb Hen­sar­ling (right), Texas Re­pub­li­can, said Mr. Frank was be­ing petty about the mat­ter.

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