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Small business aid bill clears key Senate hurdle


President Obama leaves Oasis Mechanical Contractors Inc, a small business in Lanham, Maryland.

(Photo Credit: Jason Reed/Reuters)

By Brady Dennis

Senate Democrats snagged two GOP votes Tuesday to end debate on a bill aimed at jumpstarting the struggling economy and creating jobs by giving small businesses easier access to credit.

The 61-37 vote paves the way for final Senate passage of the aid package, which includes a $30 billion lending fund and about $12 billion in tax relief for small businesses.

The longstanding logjam over the legislation ended thanks to Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio), who had said he would join Democrats in helping push the small-business incentives through the Senate because the economy was "really hurting."

Democrats heaped praise Tuesday on Voinovich, who was joined by fellow Republican George LeMieux (R-Fla.) to help Democrats eclipse the 60 votes needed to overcome the threat of a filibuster.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) called the legislation "the most significant thing we've done since the stimulus bill," the $787 billion measure that Congress passed in February 2009.

As the economic recovery has stalled and the appetite for another round of stimulus has all but dried up in Congress, the small-business bill has become a growing priority for the Obama administration. The president in recent weeks repeatedly called on Senate Republicans to abandon their "blockade" of the legislation.

"Today's vote brings us one step closer to ending the months-long partisan blockade of a small business jobs bill that was written by both Democrats and Republicans," Obama said in a statement Tuesday. "This is a bill that would cut taxes and help provide loans to millions of small business owners who create most of the new jobs in this country."

The package of tax breaks and other incentives includes a new $30 billion loan fund, administered by the Treasury Deparment, that would go to qualified community banks that vow to extend new loans to small businesses, which have had a lack of access to credit throughout the crisis.

Reid and other Democrats have estimated that the legislation could create as many as 700,000 new jobs. Critics have questioned that figure, noting that expanded access to loans wouldn't necessarily cure the lack of consumer demand that has contributed to the reluctance of small business owners to expand and hire.

Still, it's clear that as the economy has continued to slump, many banks have simply reined in lending, leaving small businesses struggling to secure much needed loans.

Even if the Senate passes the legislation soon, as expected, it will have to be reconciled with a version passed by the House this summer before it goes to the president's desk. But Tuesday marked a key legislative victory for President Obama and Democrats heading into a mid-term election almost entirely defined by the economy.

"This is not about the November election," Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), a member of the Senate's small business committee, said prior to Tuesday's vote. "This is about righting a wrong that was done to small business when Wall Street took Main Street down and cut off access to capital."

The small business aid package didn't turn out as large or pass as quickly as some Democrats had hoped.

A similar proposal was put forward in October by Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), who suggested combining resources from the Treasury, Federal Reserve and private banks to create a $50 billion pool of money that could be used to lend to small businesses. Though that plan never entirely panned out, even Warner sounded optimistic on Tuesday.

"Candidly, I wish we had passed this legislation last spring," he said. "But better late than never."

By Brady Dennis  |  September 14, 2010; 2:14 PM ET
Categories:  Congress , Small business  
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Next: Economic agenda: Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2010


Dems win again!

McConnell is such a loser.

Posted by: James10 | September 14, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

you will need the loans to pay the tax hikes.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 14, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

If you're making over 250K, who cares about taxes,you can afford it.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 14, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

I believe that's called "getting it done"

Posted by: Anonymous | September 14, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

The problem with Republicans is that they are hypocrites. They say they are for businesses but in fact they are not, Republicans are owed by large multi-national corporations. When it ccomes to small mom and pop local business the only thing Republicans give is words.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 14, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Republicans are owned by large multi-national corporations

Posted by: Anonymous | September 14, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Typical lousy story by the media in general, and the Post specifically. This is not reporting. All we get to read about is the politics, but there are no specifics about what the bill includes. What, exactly, are they voting for, or against? How can we possibly know if the Republicans are objecting to a bad bill, or if the Democrats are supporting a good bill, if the media doesn't feel it is necessary to let the public know any details about the legislation?


Posted by: Anonymous | September 14, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Another $42 billion added to the national debt.

Posted by: bbwk80a1 | September 14, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Yes, We Can!

Posted by: lcarter0311 | September 14, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Doesn't matter, small business isn't going to invest until Obama is gone!

Posted by: phines1 | September 14, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

The REAL Small Businesses of WE-the-People have received NO- ZERO Help!! - So far CONGRESS only $helps the toooo-Big CORPsters & WALLsters! - Why 'NO' Help for Small BIZ' with 1-40 Employees?- Why 'NO' Help for the "tooo-LITTLE Businesses? -- CONGRESS considera so-called small business as WAY-WAY Too Big to be consider4ed Small by 95% of ALL of us considered toooo-little U.S. CITIZENS ?! -- 80% of the Federal $Money supposedly for the SMALL,- actually goes to the $$BIG!! -- And that is what CONGRESS wants.- They want to help thier' $CORPster, $BANKster, WALLster PALS,--- AND AT THE SAME-TIME APPEAR, OR SAY THAT THEY ARE HELPING sMALL bUSINESS.-- HA!-- What a Bunch of "CRAP"!! -- Leave it up to CONGRESS to mess up a wet scheme.- They are in $BED with the $BANKsters,- and are ALL WET!!

Posted by: jward52 | September 14, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

The next, new big things will more than likely emerge from the new money crowd instead of the olde moneyed one. Coooool.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 14, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

GREAT! At least I can hope that the SBA loans on my desk have a chance for funding. Small businesses need a break in this economy and fee waiver and lifting the funding limits can be a great assistance to buy, refi and fund working capital.
Let's see if the House can move on it?
Denise Beeson

Posted by: dbeeson | September 14, 2010 6:07 PM | Report abuse

The way to encourage small businesses to hire people is to repeal Obama Care. My company's health care cost has increased 31.13% since April this year, as a result I have had to lay off 3 people and put 3 more on part time status.

Our government is being run by people who have never worked for a living and definitely do not have a clue as to what it is to make a payroll.

This continual campaigning and posturing is nauseating!

Posted by: EndOfAnEra | September 14, 2010 7:52 PM | Report abuse

Small businesses need tax reductions not credits and loan opportunities. Small businesses are going to have their taxes raised by Bush tax cuts expiring. Most of these small businesses are S corporations where one man owns all the stock. 250 thousand dollars a year based on million dollar investments and 14 hour days such as put in by plumbers, electricians, cement contractors and the like ARE TAXES ON THE WEALTHY according to the man who never owned or worked for a small business and whose visits are publicity stunts.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 14, 2010 7:57 PM | Report abuse

The Dems just voted down a provision in the Healthcare Bill that forces any business owner to fill out a W-2 for any purchase over $600.
Can you imagine the hassle and cost of such a stupid provision, but the Dems refused to change it.
Are we supposed to believe that Obama cares about small business?
He just wants to take all our money, and then tell us what to do with it.
Vote them out in November.

Posted by: joanz3 | September 14, 2010 7:59 PM | Report abuse

This will not help small business at all, the problem is the way a small business is defend. Our business is a true small business like may others out there today. We are a two man unit Husband and Wife team only because we can not afford to pay employees. We only do maybe 100,000 in sales a year, but pay out 110 percent of all our money. No bank wants to touch you because your not in business for two years and then we don't have 100 employees and on top of that we don't do a million plus in sales. This needs to change or all small business that made this country will fail. The town we have a business in has 90 percent of the stores closed and no funds for start up companies. If they really want to fix this country I can tell you how to do it, give grants to real small business like ours to hire employees and expand. Lets get back to main street and recreate the middle class again.

Posted by: dmachuk | September 14, 2010 10:04 PM | Report abuse

Small businesses need tax reductions not credits and loan opportunities. Small businesses are going to have their taxes raised by Bush tax cuts expiring. Most of these small businesses are S corporations where one man owns all the stock. 250 thousand dollars a year based on million dollar investments and 14 hour days such as put in by plumbers, electricians, cement contractors and the like ARE TAXES ON THE WEALTHY according to the man who never owned or worked for a small business and whose visits are publicity stunts.
So you expect someone to bleed tears for a small business owner who pulls out $250K+ out of his business as his personal income?

By the way the President earns more than $250K in income. So what's your point?

Posted by: justonevoice | September 14, 2010 10:48 PM | Report abuse

Exposing the Republican's hipocritical ideas is exactly what the Dems need. This is beyond stupidity, americans need to get a clue and figure out who is fighting for the middle class and who has their best interest in mind. To me it's elementary but apparently not too many americans went beyond grade school.

Posted by: rryan007 | September 14, 2010 10:58 PM | Report abuse

Steaming pile of garbage. Loans and R&D money are not the only issues. Some businesses want to invest in marketing, others in operations. Cut taxes for S-corp income, and let business owners decide where to deploy the capital. In short, get out of their way, and let them do what they do best.

Posted by: dslevine | September 14, 2010 11:12 PM | Report abuse

I agree with you James10. Mitch McConnell is a loser and dull senator. He repeats over and over again that we need to go back to the Bush agenda which lead to the job loss in the first place.

Now the small business lending bill needs 51 votes to move to House and then the President signs and more jobs created.

I'm ready to vote Dems this November; I will NOT forget how Republicans led us all into a big ditch; we just got out of the ditch and our feet is still dirty.

This election is the chance to keep Dems behind the wheel and put the Republicans in the back seat and corporate lobbyists in the trunk. With Dems behind the wheel, the liberals, green parties, moderates, and independence can call shotgun since these party groups all put aside politics to work together with Dems to provide solutions.

As long as Dems, Liberals, Independence, Green Parties, and Moderates win we are cool and in the right direction.

What's important is to get those Republicans out; put the Republicans in the back seat and put the lobbyists in the trunk.

Republicans as the majority gives corporate lobbyists the shotgun and they're demanding us to give them the keys to the car after they drove us to the ditch; we are NOT going to give the Republicans the keys to the car again.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 14, 2010 11:27 PM | Report abuse

This bill combined with the extension of the tax cuts for the middle class, that includes most small businesses, is absolutely one step towards recovery.

But we can not stop here. Repeal the tax cuts and tax loop holes for the super rich, which includes corporations and all those companies that out source jobs to Asia AND enjoy monumental tax breaks.

Posted by: mackiejw | September 15, 2010 1:07 AM | Report abuse

and all the GOP has to offer is Bush's leftover snake oil:

Republicans introduce “Kill the economy” plan

Congressional Republicans unveiled a plan on Monday that they said would hurt the nation’s economy, benefit the wealthy at the expense of the middle class and add billions to the national debt.

The move is a continuation of Republican policies during the Bush administration and part of a plan they hope will lead to rising voter dissatisfaction and Republican gains at the ballot box.

“Remember how we racked up huge deficits during the Bush years, gave billions to the wealthy and let the middle class fall behind? Well, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet,” House Minority Leader John Boehner (R- Ohio) said. “We’re going to drive those unemployment and deficit numbers up so high that the American people will be voting Republican until they realize we screwed them over once again.” (continued….)

Posted by: Mikeystyle | September 15, 2010 1:43 AM | Report abuse

I'm trying to start a small business. Why won't the government just hand me the $2million dollars I need for start up costs? Legislators have given away that much money in 'grants' (not loans) to friends and family.

I personally like the report I heard just yesterday about how some 'stimulus' money has been used. Some group was GIVEN $800,000 to teach men how to wash their private parts better as a possible way to avoid HIV/AIDS.

After hearing that, I think my request for an honest and visible use of $2million isn't quite so outrageous.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 15, 2010 7:36 AM | Report abuse

I am a former Obama supporter (both financial and voting) and a Small Business Owner. We do Federal Contracting and I can tell you that the President is clearly and undeniably lying.

In February 2008 Candidate Obama saw and recognized the problem when he stated:
"I am proud to have the support of the American Small Business League and their grassroots efforts to help protect American small business. Helping American small business is part of our movement for change and the end of politics as usual," Sen. Obama said. "98 percent of all American companies have fewer than 100 employees. Over half of all Americans work for a small business. Small businesses are the backbone of our nation's economy and we must protect this great resource. It is time to end the diversion of federal small business contracts to corporate giants."

Today in 2010 President Obama has forgotten the issue and the solution. He now says “There’s No Silver Bullet” - Yeah something is broken in Washington – It’ President Obama’s Word.
The Obama administration needs to stop diverting federal contracts from Small Businesses, Minority-owned businesses and Veteran-owned Businesses to large federal contractors.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 15, 2010 7:40 AM | Report abuse

This is great, Obama's union buddies get another $30 billion but he wants to punish the 750,000 non-union small businesses that file as individuals.

Posted by: charing60 | September 15, 2010 8:24 AM | Report abuse

I work for a small business. 33 employees at this time. Prior to the start of the year,we were at 22 employees. What we need is money to expand more.The 30 billion will certainly help many small business like ours.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 15, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

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