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Partisan rancor appears to be building in the Senate around a bipartisan House-passed bill designed to help small businesses raise capital.
Senate Democrats have been drafting their version of the bipartisan measure, which they expect to unveil this week, and hope to pass it before the end of the month.
But Senate Republicans want the chamber to take up the House bill, dubbed the JOBS Act. They argue it would pass with an overwhelming majority similar to Thursday’s 390-23 House approval.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) “has said that he is going to introduce another bill, of course we want to look at that,” Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) said on a conference call with reporters Friday. “I just hope that that is not an excuse to delay when we have got one that passed so overwhelmingly with Democratic votes in the House. Taking up the House bill would certainly expedite the procedure.”
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), who was also on the call, said the House version should be the vehicle and could be amended on the Senate floor.
“I can’t think of a good reason why this isn’t a terrific vehicle,” Toomey said. “My own personal hope is that he would put it on the floor with an open amendment process and, by all means, let everybody have their shot on improving on it if they can. I think that is the best way to get a successful outcome.”
A senior GOP aide accused the Democrats, who have the majority in the Senate, of having a strategy to change the bill and try to make a political issue out of it.
“In their desperation to cling to power, Democrats are cynically using every opportunity they can to ruin the most bipartisan exercise in Washington this year,” the aide said.
A senior Senate Democratic aide said Republicans are the ones seeking to play politics with the issue by making it difficult for the Senate to work its will.
“There is no dramatic tension over this despite their best efforts to create it,” the aide said.
“We’ve been working on the bill for months,” the aide said, adding that they do not want to short-circuit the regular order process.
“Our bill lines up with theirs in general,” the aide said, adding that the Senate Banking Committee is weighing various Senate approaches to the House package and that “we are working through that.”