This vote was on bringing debate to a close on a substitute amendment that includes the text of Senate Democrats’ bill to provide a variety of tax incentives for small businesses. This is necessary in order to erase the text of a similar bill the House had previously passed, and paste in the Senate’s preferred version. This is mostly done to satisfy a parliamentary requirement that paves the way for a conference committee, which is where representatives from the House and Senate meet to hammer out differences between the chambers’ two versions before the bill is finally passed.
Specifically, the amendment would allow small businesses to write assets off more quickly, and would create a new $30 billion small business lending fund, as well as several other changes to tax policy intended to encourage small business growth.
Republicans had threatened to hold up the bill’s consideration indefinitely with a filibuster, causing Senate Majority Harry Reid, D-Nev., to file what is known as a “cloture motion,” which is a vote on bringing debate on a bill or amendment to a close.
If the Senate votes to “invoke cloture” – or bring debate to a close – then lawmakers must either hold a vote on the legislation, amendment or motion in question, or move on to other business. This type of motion is most often called on contentious legislation where the leadership is concerned that consideration could be held up indefinitely by a handful of senators.
“This is an important piece of legislation. It is the most significant thing we have done since the stimulus bill was passed to create jobs. It is estimated this will create from 500,000 to 700,000 jobs. It will give community banks the ability now to compete with the big banks and loan money to small businesses. As I said this morning, big banks are doing great. The stock market jumped up yesterday because they looked at the financials of the big banks and they are doing terrific. Big business is doing just fine. But in this recession we have the jobs that have been lost in the small business sector. Eighty percent of the jobs lost are from small businesses. This legislation will allow community banks to start loaning money,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
Republicans did not speak to this cloture motion specifically; prior to this motion, most of their time was spent in unsuccessful attempts to use this bill to make various changes to the 2010 health care overhaul law, which they argued unfairly burdens businesses with various mandates.
By a vote of 61-37, the motion to bring debate to a close succeeded. Every Democrat present voted to bring debate to a close. All but two Republicans present voted against bringing debate to a close. The end result is that cloture was invoked on a substitute amendment that erased the text of the underlying House-passed bill and pasted in the text of Senate Democrats’ version of a bill to grant small business tax incentives and create a new small business lending fund.