Senate Passes JOBS Act; Bill Returns to House

The Senate  passed the JOBS Act today 73 to 26, seeking to ease government red tape on small and start-up businesses.

The Senate made one change to the House-passed bill,  adding an amendment passed with bipartisan support that would make it easier to "crowdfund" small businesses.

The amendment addresses the difficulties small businesses, young businesses and start-ups face in securing capital, compared with larger companies, by allowing them to raise capital from individual investors online and through social media. The amendment allows entrepreneurs to raise up to $1 million a year through an SEC-registered crowdfunding portal, providing investor protections.

"Crowdfunding will allow small businesses to bypass Wall Street and go straight to Main Street for financing, freeing every American to invest in a local business or the next great idea," Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., said following the vote.

Since this amendment was added to the House-passed bill the amendment does not go straight to the president's desk just yet. The bill must go back to the House of Representatives for final passage.

This bill has had a few ups and downs along the way in the Senate.

Most notable was that the White House endorsed the House-passed legislation well before it reached the Senate. This move in essence tied many Senate Democrats hands, taking away their negotiating power when many Democrats felt the bill needed to be improved.

Senate Democrats attempted to add additional investor protectors and to link the bill to an extension and expansion of the Export-Import Bank, but those efforts failed in the amendment process.

Among Senate Republicans there was substantial support for the Ex-Im Bank. But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY., recommended to his caucus that they oppose adding this provision to the House passed bill.

"We believe that if you turn to the Ex-Im matter, we can pass in very short period of time with very few amendments related to the subject matter," Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Tuesday, "but I think it's important that we get this jobs bill down to the president."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., mindful of the president's endorsement of the House-passed bill called this a "good piece of legislation," but added, "it isn't a perfect bill."

Many Democrats said the jobs bill would not actually do much to create jobs. This was the reason Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., gave for voting against the measure today.

"The supporters of this bill claim it will help to create jobs," Levin said. "They have even titled it the jobs act. But there is no evidence it will help create new jobs."

Following the vote, Majority Leader Reid called this a "small step" towards creating jobs and then quickly pivoted to call on the House of Representatives to take up another jobs measure that is stalled between the two chambers: the Senate's bipartisan transportation bill.

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