Senate passes House GOP's JOBS Act

The Senate on Thursday passed an amended version of House Republicans' Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, a bill supporters say would generate jobs by easing capital formation regulations for small companies.

The legislation, which soared through the House earlier in March, 390-23, survived fierce opposition in the Senate from powerful Democrats including Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and several attempts to gut and replace many of its key provisions through the amendment process. 

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The bill easily garnered the majority of votes needed for final passage, 73-26, after both Senate Leaders Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) offered endorsements. 

"One bill alone can't undo the damage done to the economy by this administration but it sure can help," said McConnell from the floor earlier in the week

Reid's support, however, was less enthusiastic. He called it a "good but imperfect bill" and throughout the debate declined to call it the JOBS Act, contending that the "experts agree it won’t create that many jobs.”

Reid's second in command, Durbin, however, immediately met the bill on the Senate floor last week with resistance, arguing it would 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.  

“The bill’s supporters have characterized it as a jobs bill, but this bill is really designed to change disclosure, accounting and auditing standards and to exempt many firms and corporations from the Securities and Exchange Commission oversight,” he said.

Senators, throughout the week, swatted away several Democrat proposed amendments that would have "repaired and replaced" the underlying legislation. Prior to final passage on Thursday, however, the Senate voted to adopt an amendment proposed by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) that would create stricter reporting requirements and regulations for companies that raise cash through "crowd funding" over the Internet.

The purpose of the amendment is "to create a solid foundation for Americans to be able to invest in start up companies throughout the Internet and do so in a way that does not result in predatory scams," Merkley said prior to the 64-35 adoption.

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.

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

—Updated at 1:52 p.m.