This vote was on a motion to bring debate to a close on a bill that would create small business tax incentives and a new lending fund for small businesses. Specifically the bill would create a $30 billion capital lending fund that is estimated to help community banks provide as much as $300 billion in additional credit to small businesses. The aim of the bill is to help alleviate one of the side effects of the financial meltdown: a reluctance on the part of banks to lend money to people and businesses alike. Small banks and small businesses have been particularly hard-hit by the credit crunch.
Republicans had threatened to hold up the bill’s consideration indefinitely with a filibuster, causing Senate Majority Harry Reid, D-Nev., to file what is known as a “cloture motion,” which, in essence, is a vote on bringing debate on a bill or amendment to a close, which is what this vote was on. If the Senate votes to “invoke cloture” – or bring debate to a close – then lawmakers must either hold a vote on the legislation, amendment or motion in question, or move on to other business. This type of motion is most often called on contentious legislation where the leadership is concerned that consideration could be held up indefinitely by a handful of senators.
Mary Landrieu, D-La., said much time and energy has been focused on large financial institutions in the wake of the financial meltdown, but that this bill focuses on the small businesses that make up the heart of Main Street.
“We also know that small businesses use their credit cards for capital. We also know our small businesses go to family members. They dig into their own savings to find the money needed to initiate or support their business. We also know they go to their uncles and aunts. Financing through family members has been a traditional way that small business owners use, and credit unions,” Landrieu said. “So everything we can do now—we cannot have a relief to the great uncle and aunt bill. That is a little bit out of our reach. But we can help our small banks, our small business agencies. We can look hard on credit card companies and their practices and make sure they are doing right by businesses. We are trying to do all of that one step at a time.”
No one spoke against the bill during Senate floor debate, but some Senate Republicans had previously suggested that while they support small businesses, this particular bill is little more than another bailout at taxpayers’ expense that will increase the deficit.
By a vote of 66-33, the motion to bring debate to a close was adopted. Every Democrat present voted to bring debate to a close. Of Republicans present, eight voted to bring debate to a close and 33 voted against bringing debate to a close. The end result is that debate was brought to a close on a bill intended to help loosen the credit crunch for small businesses by creating new tax incentives and a small business lending fund.