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The Week Ahead in Congress

March 13, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

Another week, another scramble in Congress to pass a funding bill to keep the government from shutting down. This time, they're looking at a three-week stopgap bill that would cut about $2 billion per week from 2010 funding levels by essentially accelerating cuts that have been proposed by President Obama and congressional Democrats. With bipartisan support on the specifics and a general preference among all to keep the government from shutting down, the bill is expected to pass in both chambers by wide margins and be signed into law before thethe current stopgap runs out on Friday. After that, House Republicans are planning votes on eliminating federal funding for NPR and canceling more housing programs. Click through for full details and links to learn more.

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Senate Dems Break Small-Business-Jobs-Bill Filibuster

September 14, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Since June 29th, Senate Democrats have been stymied by Republicans on a bill (H.R. 5297) that would give small business $12 billion in tax breaks and a $30 billion lending fund in order to encourage new hiring. Today, a couple Republicans gave in, providing the Democrats the votes they need to overcome GOP opposition and move the bill towards final passage.

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A New Obama Jobs Bill

September 1, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Having pushed aside energy/oil spill legislation until the lame-duck session, the weeks between when Congress reconvenes from the August recess on September 13 and before they adjourn for election season in October will be focused on one thing -- saving the U.S. economy from slipping deeper into recession. There's a small business jobs bill on tap (H.R. 5297), a vague plan to do something with the expiring Bush tax cuts, and now, according to the Wall Street Journal, a new jobs package from the Obama Administration.

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Economist Susan Woodward considers August to be, typically, "a month of unambiguous employment growth." But according to a report released today that she helped to put together with Intuit Inc., small businesses in August, though still hiring, are adding new employees at the slowest rate since January. According to the report, the number of jobs created in August is only one-third of how many were created in April.

Why the downturn? One possibility is that small business owners have put hiring and expansion on hold while they wait for the Senate to break a Republican filibuster and pass the Small Business Jobs and Credit Act of 2010.

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On Friday I wrote about a vote in the Senate on an amendment to the Small Business Jobs and Credit Act that sets up the bill for a successful vote on final passage next week. Senate Republicans have been opposing a provision in the bill to create a $30 billion small business lending fund because, they say, it's too similar to the TARP big-bank bailout program that was pushed through Congress by the Bush Administration in 2008. But on Thursday evening, Senate Democrats, with the help of a couple wayward Republicans, were able to secure passage of an amendment to keep the small-business fund in the bill.

So, naturally, I wanted to compare Thursday's vote on the small business lending fund with the 2008 vote on TARP itself. As it turns out, a total of 22 senators voted both in favor of the TARP program, which leant $700 billion to the big banks to do pretty much whatever they want, and agains the small business lending fund, which would lend $30 billion to small banks to loan to small businesses for the purposes of creating jobs. Here's the list:

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