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House passes jobs bill with wide bipartisan margins

The House on Thursday approved legislation that proponents say will make it easier for small businesses to launch initial public offerings, solicit new investors and, eventually, hire more workers.

The Jumpstart Our Business Startups, or JOBS, Act passed 390 to 23, a wide, bipartisan margin that House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said should compel the Senate to consider the bill “in an expeditious fashion.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said Thursday he would introduce similar legislation next week and “move as quickly as we can” to pass it, but he said a highway bill under consideration in the Senate would create more jobs faster than the House’s proposal.

The bills passed Thursday would lift SEC restrictions on advertisements soliciting new investors and permit “crowdfunding” so that entrepreneurs can raise equity capital from larger pools of small investors. Small private companies would also be able to sell up to $50 million in shares as part of a public offering before having to register with the SEC and could have as many as 1,000 shareholders, up from the current cap of 500.

Four of the bills included in the package had already passed the House by wide margins. Republican leaders couldn’t say how many jobs the JOBS Act would actually create.

“This is something that you measure later for down the road,” House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said this week. “There are jobs that aren’t being created because of the red tape.”

House Republicans voted down an amendment to the package that would have required large publicly-traded companies to disclose how many of their employees are based in this country vs. overseas. In the final vote, 230 to 175, all but three Republicans opposed the amendment.

Rep. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) introduced the amendment to shed more light, he said, on how many American jobs are being outsourced, as many multinational companies do not reveal where their employees are based. Yet data show that multinationals as a group reduced their domestic head counts by 2.9 million while adding 2.4 million jobs in other countries between 2000 and 2009.

Ahead of the vote, the issue of job creation — a key priority in an election year — spawned effusive praise this week from both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.

White House spokeswoman Amy Brundage said Thursday’s vote “shows both sides should be able to find common ground on this issue, and the president urges them to pass a bill and bring it to his desk without delay.” Earlier in the week, the White House said President Obama was “encouraged” to see both sides working together on jobs legislation.

In response, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), a frequent Obama foe, called the White House support “good news.” for small businesses.

Although most House Democrats voted for the bill Thursday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) — who also voted for it — called the proposal “so meager” and much less effective than transportation funding bills being weighed in the House and Senate.

The Senate began voting Thursday on a two-year, $109 billion deal that would create or sustain almost 3 million jobs in the next two years, according to its backers, which include Democrats, Republicans, labor unions and business groups. A final vote is expected Tuesday, and Boehner said Thursday that the House would take it up later this month.

Staff writer Jia Lynn Yang contributed to this report.

Ed O’Keefe is covering the 2016 presidential campaign, with a focus on Jeb Bush and other Republican candidates. He's covered presidential and congressional politics since 2008. Off the trail, he's covered Capitol Hill, federal agencies and the federal workforce, and spent a brief time covering the war in Iraq.


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