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Small Business Aid Bill Passes Senate

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With help from Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, Democrats on Tuesday passed a bill to create a $30 billion government-lending fund to assist small businesses, overcoming Republican efforts to stop the bill and clearing the way for the measure to return to the House for a final vote.

The bill passed 61-37, beating back a Republican filibuster, with Voinovich joining two independents who voted with Democrats to approve the measure. It creates a fund to assist community banks, those with less than $10 billion in assets, in lending to small businesses, and also provides about $12 billion in tax breaks to large and small businesses over a 10-year period.

Voinovich crossed party lines to send the bill toward passage, although in July he held firm with party leaders to delay action. George Lemieux, R-Fla., also voted for passage. The House can either opt to make further changes in the bill or send it to the president for his signature.