This vote was on bringing debate to a close on a bill that would provide tax incentives for small businesses and authorize a $30 billion lending fund to help small businesses get better access to credit.
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.
Some Republicans had balked at this bill, particularly its lending fund, saying it was essentially another bank bailout like the one enacted quickly during the end of George W. Bush’s presidency.
Mary Landrieu, D-La., took pains to say this particular bill is about helping community banks free up credit for small businesses, not about helping fat cat Wall Street banks.
“This bill is not about Wall Street. We have had enough of those. This bill is not about big corporations; they take up 80 percent of the agenda in this place on any given day. This bill is about the 27 million small businesses that need the Members of the Senate to stand up for them today. If we can stand up for small businesses today, they will stand up for us and lift this country out of the worst recession since the Great Depression. I want to repeat that. It will not be the big banks that do this. It will not be the big international firms that do this. As it always has been since the beginning of America, since the first small business, the first enterprise, it will be small businesses that create jobs,” Landrieu said.
Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said beyond substantive concerns with the bill, Democrats have gone “out of your way” to politicize what should be a common sense bill.
“They have outdone themselves. We got this bill in late June. This is July 29. Since then, the Democrats have set it aside six separate times to move on to something else. So, from the beginning, this bill clearly was not a priority to them until they realized they didn’t have anything to talk about when they go home in August,” McConnell said. “It is obvious what is going on. They wanted to make this an issue so they have something to talk about other than their failed economic policies. The President made that clear 2 weeks ago when he accused Republicans of blocking this bill, a statement every single fact checker in town has shown to be false. So they can try to deflect attention all they want, they can manufacture a legislative impasse—and that is what has happened here, a manufactured legislative impasse—but the American people know what is going on.”
By a vote of 58-42, the motion to bring debate to a close was rejected. Though more voted yes than no, this particular type of vote required 60 in order to be considered passed. All but one Democrat present voted to bring debate to a close (Harry Reid, who likely voted this way to preserve his right to call for a revote later). Every Republican present voted against bringing debate to a close. The end result is that debate was not brought to a close on a small business lending measure, and debate on the measure continued.