Jobs Act vote a tough choice for Democrats

Two tries to amend House ver­sion fail

The Washington Times Daily - - Politics - BY SEAN LENGELL

The Se­nate on Tues­day voted down a Demo­cratic al­ter­na­tive to a House Re­pub­li­can small­busi­ness pack­age, leav­ing the Demo­cratic-con­trolled up­per cham­ber with two op­tions: ac­cept the House bill or re­ject a mea­sure sup­ported by Pres­i­dent Obama.

Af­ter los­ing votes on two Demo­cratic amend­ments to the mea­sure, Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Harry Reid, Ne­vada Demo­crat, ended the day’s ses­sion, push­ing back to Wed­nes­day the key test vote on the House bill.

The so called Jobs Act, a bun­dle of six bills — three of which pre­vi­ously passed the House with wide bi­par­ti­san sup­port but stalled in the Se­nate — was pack­aged by House Re­pub­li­can lead­ers and eas­ily passed the lower cham­ber.

But the Se­nate on Tues­day re­jected a pro­posed Demo­cratic sub­sti­tute that its back­ers said would beef up in­vestor pro­tec­tions weak­ened by the House bill.

“This [House bill], as it is cur­rently drafted, is not ready to be­come law — and if it does, it could have un­in­tended con­se­quences that hurt in­vestors, se­niors and av­er­age Amer­i­can fam­i­lies,” said Sen. Jack Reed, Rhode Is­land Demo­crat, who spon­sored his party’s ver­sion.

The sub­sti­tute failed by a vote of 55-44, mostly along party lines, fall­ing short of the 60 votes needed to cut off de­bate and pro­ceed to­ward a final vote. Sen. Scott P. Brown of Mas­sachusetts was the lone Re­pub­li­can to sup­port the mea­sure, while no Democrats voted against it.

The Se­nate also re­jected an amend­ment to the bill to reau­tho­rize the fed­eral Ex­port-im­port Bank, cre­ated in 1934 to help U.S. com­pa­nies do busi­ness abroad by pro­vid­ing credit and loan guar­an­tees to for­eign cus­tomers when tra­di­tional fi­nanc­ing is un­avail­able.

The 55-44 vote also fell five votes short of pro­ceed­ing to­ward a final vote.

As Se­nate Democrats face the decision of whether to ac­cept or re­ject the Jobs Act, Mr. Reid also sig­naled Tues­day that he would ac­cept a House bill to ban in­sider trad­ing for mem­bers of Congress.

A few sen­a­tors from both par­ties op­pose the House ver­sion of the so called Stock Act, which left out some key changes to a Se­nate ver­sion that passed ear­lier this year. Rather than reignite that fight, Mr. Reid used a par­lia­men­tary ma­neu­ver to block any al­ter­na­tives and to force a vote on the House bill.

The Jobs Act 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 ini­tially passed the House in Novem­ber by a vote of 421-1.

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.

The White House sup­ports the pack­age, though it has pointed out that Pres­i­dent Obama al­ready has pro­posed sev­eral ini­tia­tives to help small busi­nesses.

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

House Democrats also 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 is nearly iden­ti­cal to a Demo­cratic bill that over­whelm­ing passed the House last year.

Still, the mea­sure passed with sweep­ing bi­par­ti­san sup­port in the House ear­lier this month by a vote of 390-23.

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