The Senate on Thursday could pass a long-stalled measure that would boost lending to small businesses. The Senate is expected to hold a series of votes in the morning on the package of lending incentives and tax breaks and could possibly give it final approval. The House of Representatives has passed a similar bill and is expected to quickly approve the Senate’s version. With the unemployment rate stuck at 9.6 percent, voters cite jobs and the economy as their top concern and say Obama has not done enough on the issue.
“While I’m grateful for this progress, it should not have taken this long to pass this bill,” Obama said on Wednesday. Smaller firms have complained of trouble getting access to credit after the 2007-2009 financial crisis, when many banks sharply pulled back their lending activity. The bill, which is backed by industry groups, would create a $30 billion fund that the government would invest in independent community banks to encourage lending to small firms. It would also exclude from taxes all capital gains on sales of small-business stock, and ease tax rules for expending and depreciating equipment. Tax breaks in the bill total $12 billion.