This was a procedural vote on a resolution setting a time limit for debate and determining which amendments could be offered to legislation intended to increase lending to small businesses. If passed, this particular procedural motion -- known as the “previous question" -- effectively ends debate and brings the pending legislation to an immediate vote.
[The House of Representatives had already passed a small business loan bill in June 2010. The Senate amended that bill and sent it back to the House. House Democratic leaders then decided to bring up the Senate-passed bill.]
Specifically, this bill established a “Small Business Lending Fund,” and authorizing the Treasury Department to make up to $30 billion of capital investments in banks with total assets of $10 billion or less. The loan fund was aimed at small businesses seeking to hire new workers. As passed by the Senate, the bill also provided $1.5 billion to states to administer small business loan programs at the state level. The measure also allowed small businesses to use government loans provided by the Small Business Administration to refinance existing debt.
Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) urged support for the resolution and the underlying small business bill: “Today, the House delivers on a promise it made to small businesses. With the passage of this bill, small businesses, the backbone of our economy, will be given the tools and relief they need to expand their companies, to create more jobs and to help this Nation recover from the worst economic recession in decades….They [small businesses] can't wait, and we have an obligation to act swiftly to pass this bill today to make good on our promise to reward innovation, to loosen outdated limits on lending, and to encourage entrepreneurs to go to the SBA [Small Business Administration] for help in starting and building their own businesses.”
Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL) argued the legislation was fiscally irresponsible and compared it to the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) -- a law enacted in response to the 2008 economic crisis. (TARP, which many conservatives opposed, was intended to thaw the frozen lending market, thus making loans available to businesses.) Diaz-Balart said: “The underlying legislation establishes a $30 billion fund managed by the Treasury Department in an effort to increase lending from small banks to small businesses. The majority claims that this fund will move quickly to inject capital into the marketplace. What we have today before us is junior TARP….It's kind of a rehash of the 700-or-so-billion-dollar fund that was also supposed to make credit available for businesses. I was proud to oppose TARP then, and I am proud to oppose junior TARP today.”
The House agreed to the previous question motion by a vote of 230-181. 230 Democrats voted “yea.” All 170 Republicans present and 11 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the House proceeded to a final vote on a resolution setting a time limit for debate and determining which amendments could be offered to legislation intended to increase lending to small businesses.