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Small-business bill passes House, mostly without GOP help

A bill that creates a $30 billion fund for community banks to open up lending to small businesses passed the House today, 237-187 with nine not voting.

The bill was passed overwhelmingly by Democrats alone. Just one Republican voted for it (Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina). Thirteen Democrats voted against: Berry, Boyd, Childers, DeFazio, Edwards (TX), Herseth Sandlin, Mitchell, Peterson, Polis, Shuler, Taylor, Titus, and Velazquez.

The Democratic no votes fall in two categories: (1) those in tough races or conservative-leaning districts: Berry, Boyd, Childers, Edwards (TX), Herseth Sandlin, Mitchell, Peterson, Shuler, and Titus; and (2) liberals in safe districts: DeFazio, Polis, and Velazquez.

Peterson (MN-7) represents a conservative-leaning district that voted for McCain (53%-45%) and Bush (57%-42%). He voted for the stimulus, cap-and-trade, but not health care; Shuler won his Western North Carolina seat in the Democratic wave year of 2006.

Politico's Rogers has more on the liberal "no" votes:

House Democrats representing black and Hispanic districts remain concerned that there aren’t more protections to insure that the money reaches smaller owners, and no less that Small Business Committee Chair Nydia Velazquez vote against the measure on final passage, “Unfortunately, the legislation we are considering today does not provide the protections we need to make sure that small businesses access affordable capital,” the New York Democrat told her colleagues in floor debate Thursday.

Those not voting: Blunt, Boren, Bright, Castor, Fallin, Hall, Kennedy, Meek, Young

An identical bill passed the Senate last week, 61-38, with just two Republicans voting for it (Voinovich, LeMieux).

President Obama is expected to sign it into law on Monday.

This bill aims to address the major economic problem of the lack of availability of credit and loans for small businesses.


"It's still very difficult out there to raise capital if you're a small or mid-sized bank," said Paul Merski, chief economist of the Independent Community Bankers of America, a trade group for smaller Main Street banks, tells AP. "If the economy continues growing again and you have thousands of banks around the country that cannot raise the additional capital to meet the small business lending growth, then we have a stalemate."

The loan fund is opposed, however, by most Republicans, who liken it to the 2008 bailout of the financial system. They warn it would encourage banks to make loans to borrowers who aren't good credit risks."

"What we have today before us is junior TARP," said Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, R-Fla.

*** UPDATED 4:08, 4:30 PM, 4:40 ET *** Adds names of Republican House members, Democrats who crossed party lines and identifies those who did not vote.