US congress gives final OK to small business bill

By Alexandra Alper

WASHINGTON, Reuters–The U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to pass a bill to boost small business growth, despite concerns from financial watchdogs that the legislation will erode investor protections. The bill, which passed the House by a vote of 380 to 41, was approved by the Senate last week in an unusual show of election-year bipartisanship. It now will go to U.S. President Barack Obama to be signed.

The White House has expressed support for the bill, known as the JOBS Act.

The bill would make it easier for small companies to raise capital and make initial public offerings.

It has made unusually quick progress through a generally gridlocked Congress, with Democrats and Republicans eager to be seen backing business growth in an election year with unemployment still above 8 percent. Earlier this month, a group of Senate Democrats, regulators, and investor advocates had appeared poised to derail the bill because they feared it would leave investors too exposed to securities fraud.

“It’s been criticized here and there by people who I think are of the mindset that any retreat, any revisiting, any amendment to our current regulatory structure is a bad idea,” said Jim Himes, a Connecticut Democrat who sponsored a measure similar to one incorporated into the bill.