This vote was on bringing debate to a close on an amendment by George LeMieux, R-Fla., that would create a $30 billion small business lending fund, to be administered by the Treasury Department. It also would create preferential rates for community banks that increase the amount of money they loan to small businesses. The amendment, co-sponsored with Mary Landrieu, D-La., was offered to a bill that would provide a variety of tax provisions intended to benefit small businesses.
LeMieux said his amendment is intended to help free up credit for small community banks, which often lend to small businesses.
“This amendment Senator Landrieu and I and others are working on is going to put money into our local community banks that will be lent to small businesses. There has been a lot of confusion about the bill, and some of my friends and colleagues on my side of the aisle do not like it. I hope they are going to come around,” LeMieux said.
LeMieux made an appeal for support from other Republicans, some of whom were wary that this would be essentially another bank bailout like the one enacted quickly during the end of George W. Bush’s presidency.
“This has nothing to do with that. These are small banks. This is the banker you know down the street, the banker who is at your rotary or at your Kiwanis, whom you see at church or synagogue. This is not some Goldman Sachs banker. This is your local community banker who loans to the laundromat, the tailor, the construction business—the folks who employ people in your hometown,” LeMieux said.
John Thune, R-S.D., said he appreciated LeMieux’s comments but that “if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, and acts like a duck, it is a duck.”
“This is structured precisely the way [the earlier law] was structured. It has been relabeled and renamed, but we can’t get away from the basic fact that it continues to be an extension of” the earlier law,” Thune said.
By a vote of 60-37, debate was brought to a close on the amendment. Every Democrat present voted for the amendment. All but two Republicans present voted against the amendment. The end result is that the motion to bring debate to a close carried on an amendment that would create a $30 billion small business lending fund, and debate on a small business tax bill continued.