WASHINGTON, Sept 10 Retiring U.S. Senator
George Voinovich will break ranks with fellow Senate
Republicans and back President Barack Obama on a $30 billion
small business lending proposal, an aide said on Friday.
The move gives Obama and his fellow Democrats the crucial
60th vote in the 100-member Senate to overcome a Republican
filibuster and secure a significant legislative victory on the
economy ahead of congressional elections in November.
Voinovich, who decided not to run for re-election in Ohio,
said he would support the small business package in an
interview published in Friday's Washington Post. Voinovich
spokeswoman Jennifer Scoggins confirmed that he will back the
Ohio, along with other Midwestern industrial states, has
been hit hard by the economic downturn. The unemployment rate
stands at 10.3 percent in July, higher than the 9.6 percent
Voinovich told the Washington Post that time was running
out, the "country is really hurting," and he could no longer
support Republican efforts to delay the measure to be able to
offer more amendments.
With Voinovich's support, the Senate could clear the
package by the end of next week and send it to the House of
Representatives for final approval.
Voinovich said to secure his vote, the Senate needed to
consider an amendment that would kill a newly enacted measure
that requires businesses to file IRS tax forms on every
purchase above $600. Small business groups said the
requirement, which was enacted as part of the healthcare
overhaul, would impose costly compliance burdens businesses.
The legislation includes about $12 billion in tax
incentives for small businesses and also establishes a $30
billion fund the government would invest in independent
community banks to encourage lending to small businesses.
The Independent Community Bankers of America backs the
legislation, which has been a top priority for the Obama
Republican opponents have called the proposal a junior
version of the controversial government bailout of Wall
But Obama says it will help small firms obtain the
financing they need to grow and hire new workers. In recent
days he stepped up efforts to prod Congress to act, urging
Senate Republicans to end their "blockade" of the bill.
(Reporting by Donna Smith; Editing by Neil Stempleman)