The bill includes a $30 billion fund designed to encourage community banks to lend to small firms.
WASHINGTON - The Senate sprinted ahead Tuesday with a bill Democrats say will help small businesses, including a controversial $30 billion fund designed to encourage community banks to lend to small firms.
A key vote came when Republican Sens. George Voinovich of Ohio and George LeMieux of Florida joined 59 Democrats and independents in a 61-37 vote to shut off debate Tuesday. Aides expect the Senate bill to pass later this week, be reconciled with a House version and then signed by President Barack Obama, possibly by next week.
The bill has become the latest weapon for partisan messages in an intense election season. Democrats assert the bill will create thousands of jobs and argue it shows they are aiding working Americans while Republicans block progress, a message Mr. Obama has echoed in recent days.
But Republicans say the lending fund is another unwarranted government incursion into the free market. They have dubbed the fund "son of TARP" or "TARP Junior," in reference to the unpopular $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program.
Democrats say the fund is central to a bill designed to help small businesses, not big corporations, through loans from community banks, those with less than $10 billion in assets.
The bill's fate had become entangled with a separate battle over a provision in the health-care overhaul that requires businesses to file a 1099 tax form when they pay a vendor more than $600 in a year, a source of anger and protest from small businesses and their representatives in Washington.
Read the rest of the story here.