Congress sends Obama a pared-down bill to aid small businesses

By Andrew Taylor
Associated Press
Thursday, September 23, 2010; 8:39 PM

The Democratic-controlled Congress on Thursday sent President Obama a long-delayed bill to help small businesses with easier credit and other incentives to expand and hire new workers.

The $40 billion-plus bill is the last vestige of the heralded jobs agenda that Obama and Democrats promoted early this year. They ended up delivering only a fraction of what they promised after Senate Republicans blocked most of the agenda.

The Senate passed the measure last week. The 237-187 House vote Thursday split along party lines as Democrats praised the measure for creating a $30 billion federal fund to help smaller banks issue small-business loans and for cutting taxes by $12 billion over the coming decade. Republicans said the fund is just a smaller version of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the unpopular 2008 bailout of Wall Street. "What we have today before us is junior TARP," said Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.).

Community bankers enthusiastically support the bill, but it has only tepid support from GOP-leaning small-business groups more focused on expiring tax cuts.

Democrats had ambitious designs to boost "green jobs;" fund new infrastructure projects; pay for a summer jobs program for disadvantaged young people; and renew health insurance subsidies for the jobless. What was actually enacted was far smaller.

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