Small business bill expected back on the Senate floor next week

The Senate could complete work next week on a bill that includes a $30 billion amendment to help community banks lend to small businesses. 

The small business lending fund amendment offered by Republican Sen. George LeMieux (Fla.) successfully navigated a procedural hurdle Thursday night, setting up a probable vote as early as the middle of next week, according to a senior Democratic aide. The amendment is expected to pass. 

The fate of the bill remains uncertain as Republicans are demanding amendments to the legislation and it's unknown whether any will be allowed. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Two more cloture votes on the bill are lined up for next week -- one on the substitute and a final cloture vote on the underlying measure, according to a Senate aide. 

The Senate will vote on the Disclose Act on Tuesday, likely pushing cloture votes to Wednesday. 

Louisiana Sen. Mary LandrieuMary Loretta LandrieuCongress needs to work to combat the poverty, abuse and neglect issues that children face Dems wrestle over how to vote on ‘Green New Deal’ Lobbying world MORE (D) battled most of Thursday on the floor trying to convince Republicans that the lending funding isn't a government bailout and would, instead, help Main Street businesses. 

Senate Democrats have hesitated to let Republicans offer amendments because of the GOP's interest in attaching estate tax issues. 

Democratic leadership has said they want to deal with tax issues separately and don't want to include more tax cuts for the wealthy in the small business bill. 

A Senate Republican aide told The Hill on Friday night that Republicans aren't interested in adding a tax amendment and want to offer "small business-related" amendments. 

ADVERTISEMENT

LeMieux, who said the $30 billion lending fund would help small businesses in his state, has said he hopes an agreement can be worked out to allow for more Republican amendments. 

Passing the lending amendment will require only a majority vote instead of the 60 votes need to end debate. Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) was the other Republican to join Democrats in ending debate on the provision. 

The measure provides for more than $12 billion in tax breaks aimed at small businesses and an expansion of some government lending programs. 

The voluntary lending fund is available to banks with less than $10 billion in assets to provide small business loans. 

This story was updated at 7:10 p.m.