H.R. 2352, the Job Creation Through Entrepreneurship Act of 2009 amended the Small Business Act to expanded access to business counseling, training and networking to small business owners, including underserved populations such as women, veterans and Native Americans. This was a procedural motion to have the House mover to an immediate vote on the resolution or “rule” setting the terms for debating H.R. 2352. The rule limited the amendments that could be offered by individual Members. The debate focused both on the rule and on the underlying bill itself.
Rep. Polis (D-CO), who was leading the effort on behalf of the rule, claimed that it represented “a giant step forward in ensuring a bright future for all Americans who are struggling to establish or grow their own businesses.” Polis called the bill “bipartisan”, and said it “represents what we can accomplish when Republicans and Democrats work together. While there are many ideological and political differences on how to address the economic crisis, this bill is a product of consensus.”
Rep. Foxx (R-NC) acknowledged that the bill had some Republican support, but opposed the rule that limited the number of amendments that could be offered. She said “I'm very concerned about the process . . . because we haven't gone through a process that I think would have been fair to our side of the aisle.” Foxx also said that, while the bill is well-intentioned, “what small businesses, the engine of our economy, need are things that are different from this bill.” Addressing the Democratic majority, she added that “we come from two different world views in terms of how we approach this kind of an issue” and suggested that the bill is not really going to create jobs, other than for bureaucrats, and that the impact of its provisions had not been adequately evaluated and lacked accountability.
Rep. Polis responded by noting that the Republicans had only asked to have three amendments made in order under the rule, that two were excluded because they would have violated House procedures, and that the other was made in order under the rule. He also claimed that the bill would create 73,000 new jobs. Foxx’ replay was to suggest that the federal government would pay a great deal to create those jobs. She referenced the previously-passed economic stimulus legislation that the Republicans opposed and said “in much of the legislation that has been passed this year, there has been a great cost to the jobs (created).”
The debate then moved to the merits of some other matters that had either been ruled non-germane to H.R. 2352, or were in other pieces of legislation. The Republicans complained that an amendment to revise the estate tax would help small businesses, but was not permitted to be offered to this bill. The Democrats made the point that no Republicans had supported the economic stimulus legislation passed earlier in the session, which contained tax changes designed to help small businesses.
Under House procedures, before a bill can be considered, the House must first approve a resolution containing the rule for that bill. The rule provides the terms under which the legislation will be considered, included the amendments that may be offered. The effect of ordering the previous question is to close debate and immediately move to a vote on the pending matter, in this case a vote on the rule setting the terms for considering the amendments to the Small Business Act.
The motion was approved on a vote of 244-175 along almost straight party lines. All two hundred and forty-four “aye” votes were cast by Democrats. All one hundred and seventy-two Republicans, joined by three other Democrats, voted “nay”. As a result, the House moved to a vote on the rule for the bill amending the Small Business Act to expanded access to business counseling, training and networking.