Several changes made to small-business bill

The small business bill has stagnated in the Senate for weeks as Democrats and Republicans have been unable to hammer out an agreement on the number of amendments that could be offered to the measure. 

Before leaving Thursday night though, Reid filed a series of cloture motions to set up votes on Tuesday, Sept. 14. 

He withdrew all pending amendments, reoffered a substitute and moved to block any further amendments.

Reid set up procedural votes on an amendment by Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) that would eliminate a requirement for businesses to issue 1099 forms to all vendors from whom they buy more than $600 of goods or services in any year. 

To pay for the change, Johanns lowers the affordability exemption for the new individual mandate from 8 percent to 5 percent, making fewer people subject to the individual health insurance mandate. The amendment also proposes that a $15 billion fund for wellness programs not be funded until 2018.  

There will be a vote on a similar amendment by Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Nelson’s amendment that would change the threshold to $5,000.

The Democratic alternative is paid for by repealing tax cuts for the five largest oil companies, specifically, Section 199 of the tax code, which allows these corporations to deduct six percent of their income from oil and gas production from their tax liability, effective Dec. 31, 2010.  This repeal would only apply to the five largest corporations with more than $1 billion of before-tax income. 

The five major integrated oil companies, which include BP, had a combined profit of $25 billion in the first quarter of 2010. 

There appears to be agreement between Republicans and Democrats on both sides of the Capitol to make changes to the 1099 requirement but the parties differ on how to pay for the change, which affects the new healthcare law. 

The votes on the small business bill are expected to begin at 11 a.m. on September 14, starting with the Johanns amendment.

The bill would provide $12 billion in tax breaks and expands credit access for small businesses through a $30 billion lending fund.

The House also has to complete the measure before it can go to President Obama for his signature.