Senate again confronts array of amendments to small business bill

The Senate will take up a Small Business Administration (SBA) bill Monday afternoon when it returns from its recess, resuming its march through a number of amendments that have little to do with the underlying bill and bogged down the legislation earlier in the month.

The Small Business Reauthorization Act, titled S. 493, would provide funding for the Small Business Innovation Research program (SBIR) and the Small Business Technology Transfer program (STTR), which Democrats say are critical to sustain job creation.

Amendments currently pending on the bill range from one that would establish a point-of-order making a two-thirds majority necessary in the Senate and the House to consider any legislation to make major changes to Social Security, proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), to an amendment designed to force a political showdown on the Senate floor over Environmental Protection Agency climate change regulations.

Progress was initially arrested on the bill more than two weeks ago when a coalition of conservatives, led by Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), pledged to block debate on any legislation that did not deal directly with the budget in a “significant” way. 

But in an 84-12 vote, the Senate decided to bring the bill to the floor after several senators voted to allow debate in order to use it as a vehicle for amendments on other pressing matters.

The bill was further delayed as the Senate took up a resolution from the House that week to avoid a government shutdown and fund the government for an additional three weeks. That funding measure will expire April 8.

The amendments currently pending on the bill are:

  • an amendment offered by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating the emission of greenhouse gases; 
  • an amendment offered by Vitter ordering the federal government to sell off unused and underused property; 
  • a Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) amendment to form a bipartisan commission to improve oversight of government spending; 
  • an amendment offered by Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) to repeal the expansion of tax reporting requirements on payments made to corporations for property and other gross proceeds;
  • an amendment from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to slash $200 billion in spending for fiscal 2011; 
  • an amendment offered by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) to delay the implementation of the healthcare reform law until a final resolution is reached in pending lawsuits;
  • The Sanders amendment. 
  • an amendment offered by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) to force federal agencies to compile comprehensive lists of all of their programs; 
  • a Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) amendment to establish a program which would allow the SBA to make loans to members of the military wanting to start or expand a small business; and 
  • a manager's amendment offered by Sen. Mary Landrieu (R-La.) to alter the enactment date of the underlying legislation.

The Senate will convene at 2 p.m., resume consideration of the small business bill at 3 p.m. and proceed to consider the nomination of Mae D’Agostino to be a United States District Judge for the Northern District of New York at 4:30 p.m.

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