GOP JOBS Act moves forward in Senate

The Senate on Wednesday voted to advance House Republicans' JOBS Act, a bill proponents say would create jobs by easing capital formation regulations for smaller companies.

The legislation, which soared through the House earlier in March by a 323-92 vote, cleared the 60-vote procedural threshold in the Senate, 76-22, after several powerful Democrats argued the proposed deregulations would go too far. The measure may now proceed to a vote on passage, which could come as early as later today.

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), prior to Wednesday’s vote, took a swing at President Obama in touting the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, saying the bill was “more concerned with getting Washington out of the way than getting it more involved."

"One bill alone can't undo the damage done to the economy by this administration, but it sure can help,” he said.

Obama has endorsed the JOBS Act and is expected to sign it.

The House-passed bill would create a new class of companies labeled as "emerging growth companies" that would enjoy relaxed rules under the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Among other changes, the bill would also end an SEC ban on small-company advertisements to solicit capital; allow the solicitation of funds over the Internet, known as crowd funding; increase the offering threshold from $5 million to $50 million before SEC registration is required; raise the shareholder registration requirement from 500 to 1,000 shareholders; and increase the number of shareholders allowed to invest in community banks from 500 to 2,000.

Although the legislation was called to the floor by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who supported it, the bill quickly met resistance from several high-ranking Democrats, including Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who argued the bill could reverse many of the hard-won reforms represented in the Dodd-Frank regulatory reform legislation and other reforms implemented in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.  

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), who also opposed the bill, suggested the day prior that so many of her Democratic colleagues who support the bill, including Reid, were being duped by it’s “jobs” moniker. 

"So this little innocuous bill flies over from the House with a fancy name talking about jobs, and because we are all desperate, really, to create more jobs we look at the title of the bill, it says ‘jobs’ and we just can't wait to vote for it,” she said. 

On Tuesday the legislation also survived a Democratic amendment that would have gutted and replaced many of these deregulations aimed at easing capital formation. 

Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), who offered the amendment, said it would also help small businesses and entrepreneurs grow by raising capital, but would do so "in a way that protects investors." That amendment failed to reach cloture, 55-44.