One week into debate, small-business bill remains bogged down in amendments

Progress was initially arrested on the bill last week when a coalition of conservatives, lead 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.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was forced to use a time-consuming cloture vote to bring the bill to the floor for debate. Prior to that vote, several Republican senators indicated in floor speeches they would vote to bring it to the floor for the expressed purpose of adding amendments that did not pertain to its underlying language. There are currently 10 amendments pending on the legislation, but senators say they hope to add dozens more before Reid shuts off debate. 

The bill was further delayed as the Senate took up a resolution from the House, on Tuesday, to avoid a government shutdown and fund the government for an additional three weeks.

The amendments currently pending on the bill are as follows:

  • a controversial amendment offered by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating the emission of greenhouse gasses;
  • 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 health reform law until a final resolution is reached in pending lawsuits;
  • a Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) amendment to establish a point of order against any efforts to reduce benefits paid to Social Security recipients, raise the retirement age, or create private retirement accounts;
  • 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 is scheduled to reconvene at 2 p.m. on Monday, March 28, and continue consideration of the small-business bill and its amendments.