Senate Returns to Small Business Jobs Bill

The Senate on July 27 resumed consideration of the Small Business Jobs Bill of 2010 (HR 5297), which is expected to include revisions providing nearly $2 billion in disaster aid for farmers and reinstatement of a $30-billion lending pool for small businesses. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he expects the Senate to complete work on the bill, which includes $12 billion in tax breaks targeted at small businesses, by July 28, then move on to other legislation.

Progress on the bill ground to a halt late on July 22 when Sen. Blanche L. Lincoln, D-Ark., threatened to block a unanimous consent agreement worked out between Reid and Republican leaders on HR 5297 if she was not allowed a vote on the aid package as an amendment to a war supplemental bill (HR 4899) also under consideration that evening. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., objected to inclusion of the Lincoln amendment in the agreement and the deal fell apart. Reid eventually agreed to add Lincoln’s provision to the small business jobs package.

The lending pool provision cleared a major procedural hurdle on July 22 (TAXDAY, 2010/07/26, C.1) when the Senate agreed, by a vote of 60 to 37, to limit debate on adding the proposal to the bill. Reid was expected to add the measure back to a revised substitute amendment after it became clear that the Senate had the votes to approve its inclusion. Democrats had initially removed the proposal from the original bill after key lawmakers threatened to withhold their support for the measure if the provision stayed in the bill.

Passage of the small-business bill is far from assured as Reid will need all members of the Democratic caucus and at least one Republican vote to reach the necessary 60-vote threshold. The expected modifications could threaten earlier support from Sens. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, and George Lemieux, R-Fla., according to an aide for the Republican leadership.

President Obama urged Congress to find common ground on the jobs bill and pass the legislation prior to the August recess. After meeting with bipartisan leaders to discuss the legislative agenda, the president said the small business measure provides the “common-sense steps that folks from both parties have supported in the past –steps to cut taxes and spur private-sector growth and investment.”

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Wolters Kluwer Tax and Accounting

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