WASHINGTON (AP) — Legislation making it easier for small businesses to raise money survived a test vote in the Senate on Wednesday, increasing the chances it could emerge as one of the few bipartisan bills to pass Congress during this election year.
The procedural vote was to cut off debate and move the measure toward passage. Only a day earlier, the legislation that had passed the House two weeks ago by an overwhelming margin appeared in danger of dying.
Senate Democrats met late Tuesday to discuss how to proceed after Republicans succeeded in blocking Democratic amendments that would have increased protections for those investing in small businesses and startups, and extended the life of the Export-Import Bank.
The 76-22 vote to move forward sets up a vote on final passage planned for Thursday after the Senate votes on two amendments addressing aspects of investor protection. Approval of those proposals would send the bill back to the House.
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President Barack Obama has expressed his support for the legislation, which would ease some federal rules so small companies and innovators could more easily attract investors and go public. But the White House has said it supported Senate Democratic efforts for adequate safeguards for potential investors in light of any reduced government oversight over investment transactions.
Senate Republicans said the legislation was a bipartisan effort to eliminate federal red tape and create jobs, and they stuck together on the test vote.
“We need to show the American people that we can do this,” said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. “This bill is exactly the kind of thing Americans have been asking for, greater freedom and greater flexibility.”
Democrats were split; some said they could not back the legislation because of inadequate investment protections.