A bill to help support lending to small businesses advanced in the Senate on Tuesday, clearing a critical Republican hurdle. The vote was 61-37. The legislation would establish a $30 billion lending fund and provide $12 billion in tax cuts for small businesses. Senate Democrats estimate the legislation would create 500,000 small business jobs.
Democrats succeeded in securing the support of Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio), and his stated reasons for backing the measure says a lot about the state of the U.S. Senate: "We don't have time for messaging," Voinovich told the Washington Post. "We don't have time anymore. This country is really hurting."
Democrats, for their part, were quick to lavish him with praise. "I just wanted to say publicly, I so admire [Voinovich] for saying he was going to do this," Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) told reporters Tuesday before the vote. "If this all happens today I just want to say to Senator Voinovich, 'Thank you for putting your country first, ahead of politics, and for putting small businesses and workers of our country first'."
Under the new legislation small business can write off 50 percent of the cost for new equipment and as much as $500,000 in capital investments.
Tuesday's vote ends legislative debate on the measure, which is expected to proceed to a final vote by the end of the week.