By Alexander Bolton - 09/16/10 05:04 PM EDT
The Senate voted on Thursday to pass small-business legislation that President Obama and Democratic leaders made a high priority but became bogged down in partisan fighting.
The Senate voted 61-38 to end a Republican filibuster of the bill, which would give small businesses $12 billion in tax cuts. Lawmakers then passed the bill by the same vote.
It provides $1.5 billion in grants to support state-level small-business lending programs and would increase to $500,000 the amount businesses may write off for capital investments. Small businesses can immediately deduct 50 percent of the cost of equipment from their taxes under the legislation.
Democratic leaders had made the small-business legislation one of the top priorities of their jobs agenda at the beginning of the year. But the initiative was delayed while Congress finished work on healthcare reform and a sweeping Wall Street reform bill.
Senate debate on the small-business bill began on June 29 and stalled amid partisan bickering.
A breakthrough came when retiring Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) pledged to support bringing it to a final vote in exchange for consideration of a Republican amendment that would have repealed new business tax reporting requirements mandated by the healthcare law.
Earlier this week, Democrats defeated a Republican-led effort to abolish a requirement that businesses file 1099 tax reporting forms for all purchases exceeding $600 over the course of a year from a single supplier.
Democrats moved to a final vote on the small-business bill after defeating two more Republican-sponsored amendments.
One amendment, sponsored by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), would have extended a tax credit for biodiesel. The Second Amendment sponsored by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) would have permanently extended the research-and-development tax credit.
The legislation will now go back to the House, where lawmakers are expected to approve it quickly and send it to Obama for his signature.