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Obama’s JOBS Act Nod Traps Democrats

Senators Forced to Move Legislation Quickly

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (above) pointed to President Barack Obama’s support for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s JOBS Act and indicated the Senate will pass the legislation this week regardless of whether the Democratic amendment has the votes.

President Barack Obama's decision to back House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's JOBS Act early on has tied the hands of Senate Democrats, who will mount a last-ditch effort today to replace the bill with their own alternative.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Monday pointed to Obama's support for the Virginia Republican's Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act and indicated the Senate will pass the legislation this week regardless of whether the Democratic amendment has the votes.

"This bill passed the House on a bipartisan vote and has President Obama's support," Reid said.

"We could make this legislation even better by passing the modest consumer protections included in the substitute amendment we'll consider tomorrow," he added. "But Members of both parties agree we should pass it quickly. We will finish work on this legislation this week."

Obama's decision to back the Cantor bill made a certain amount of political sense, even though it boxed in Senate Democrats. If he were to oppose a bill consisting of bipartisan proposals, including some that he previously backed and that previously passed the House with bipartisan margins, he could look like the obstructionist. That would be problematic given that he's running in part against Republican obstruction of his agenda.

But by backing the bill early on, Senate Democrats have little choice but to send it on its way to the White House quickly, even though many of them believe it opens too large a loophole for companies to avoid regulations intended to protect investors.

Reid moved to limit debate on amendments last week to the chagrin of rank-and-file Democrats who wanted more opportunities to tweak the bill.

Just two amendments to the House bill will be offered — the Democratic substitute that narrows the scope of the bill and a bipartisan amendment that would reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, which is backed by big business groups, Senate Banking ranking member Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and Obama. Both amendments require 60 votes.

On Monday, Reid talked only in passing about investor protections, making his biggest plea for the Export-Import Bank amendment.

"Democrats brought this measure to the floor in an effort to find more common ground," he said. "And passing it together would be another accomplishment both parties could be proud of."

The White House, for its part, is trying to thread the needle and support both sides.

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