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Small Business Investment

March 28, 2012 by staff 

Small Business Investment, Legislation to help startup companies raise capital by reducing some federal regulations won easy passage in the Senate Thursday despite warnings from some Democrats that less government oversight would mean more abuse and scams.

President Barack Obama supports the measure, which stands to be one of the few bipartisan bills to pass Congress during this politically contentious election year.

Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., a leading sponsor of the legislation, said it “might be the most pro-growth measure that this body will consider, perhaps this whole year.”

Democrats did manage to pass one amendment to increase investor protections, so the legislation will still require another House vote. The House passed the measure two weeks ago on a 390-23 vote. The Senate vote was 73-26, with all the “no” votes coming from Democrats.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said he would schedule a House vote next week “so we can get this bipartisan jobs bill to the president’s desk for his signature without delay.”

The legislation combines six smaller bills that change Securities and Exchange Commission rules so small businesses can attract investors and go public with less red tape and cost. It eases rules on advertising and permits startups to use the Internet and other social media to solicit a large number of small-scale investors.

The measure sailed through the House with almost no opposition but met resistance in the Senate after SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro and numerous consumer and investor groups expressed concerns that it dismantles some of the protections put in place after the Enron scandal and the excesses of the dot-com era. Senate Democrats demanded that investor protections be added to the bill.

On Tuesday, the future of the bill seemed in doubt when Senate Republicans rejected Democratic attempts to add protections to the bill and link it to reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, an agency that helps U.S. companies finance their sales abroad. The Democratic leadership decided to move ahead after deciding on two amendments that addressed some, but not all, of the investor protection concerns.

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