Senate Passes Jobs Bill Minus GOP Healthcare Repeal Provision

The Senate approved legislation to aid the nation’s small businesses on Thursday, but only after rejecting two tax provisions related to the landmark healthcare reform law enacted earlier this year. One of those defeated amendments, offered by a Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) would have struck at the core of healthcare reform, opponents say.

The small business bill (H.R. 5297), which was approved with two Republicans joining Democrats, would provide small businesses with $15 billion in tax relief and greater access to capital needed to thrive in the current economic downturn.

“This timely support for small businesses, which is fully paid-for and won’t add one dime to the deficit, should create hundreds of thousands of jobs,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) says in a statement released after the vote.

Earlier in the week, however, senators rejected dueling amendments to deal with complaints of onerous paperwork regarding a provision of the healthcare law which was crafted to ensure greater compliance with companies paying their taxes.

Senators rejected an amendment offered by Johanns, by a vote of 52-46, which would have repealed that tax provision and made up the lost revenue by cutting into the healthcare reform law itself. Johanns, as with all other Senate Republicans, opposed passage of the healthcare law.

“The Johanns amendment tried to pit small business against the health and vitality of our communities,” Larry Cohen, executive director of the Prevention Institute, says in a statement released after the Johanns provision went down to defeat. “Our senators showed true courage today, and listened to what public health and prevention proponents are saying across the country: small businesses benefit from prevention–we all benefit from prevention.”

However, senators also defeated an alternate amendment introduced by Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), which also would have attempted to cut down on tax-related paperwork, but without cutting into healthcare reform itself.

The Nelson amendment failed to overcome a GOP filibuster, on a 56-42 vote. Some 60 votes were required.

The publisher of the news site On The Hill, Scott Nance has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade.

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