November 1, 2018 / 7:07 PM / 18 days ago

U.S. House finance chair still hopeful for vote on capital formation bill

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The chair of the House Financial Services Committee said he is still hopeful the Senate will vote on a bill that would make it easier for companies to raise capital and go public, despite a growing likelihood the legislation will stall in the upper chamber.

FILE PHOTO - U.S. Representative Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, speaks at the Milken Institute 21st Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California, U.S., April 30, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake

In a statement to Reuters on Thursday, Texas Representative Jeb Hensarling said, without offering a date, he had “faith” that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would keep a promise to put the bill to a vote on the Senate floor.

“From there, it is my hope that senators will follow suit with the House to modernize our capital markets, bring (initial public offerings) back to the U.S. and help our entrepreneurs access investors and equity capital which will bring economic growth for all Americans,” Hensarling said.

The JOBS and Investor Confidence Act of 2018, which aims to cut red tape for listed companies and make it easier for private companies to raise capital, passed the House in July with overwhelming bipartisan support.

To get the House to pass a bill easing bank rules, McConnell promised House finance chair he would put a Hensarling-sponsored capital markets bill to a vote on the Senate floor. The deal was struck in response to Hensarling’s complaint the bank bill did not go far enough.

McConnell did not say, however, when he would hold the vote and so far moderate Senate Democrats, whose votes are needed to pass the package, have failed to publicly back the bill.

Time is running out for the Senate, narrowly controlled by Republicans, to hold a vote this Congress, with congressional elections on Nov. 6 and the remaining Senate floor time - known on Capitol Hill as the “lame duck” session - likely to be devoted primarily to confirming nominees.

U.S. Representative Patrick McHenry, the House Republican deputy whip, told Reuters on Tuesday there had so far been no progress in the Senate and he did not have “high hopes” that the upper chamber would pass the bill.

On Thursday, however, AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for speaker of the House Paul Ryan, rebuffed this view.

“The House passed the JOBS Act 3.0 with a huge bipartisan margin, and there’s no reason the Senate shouldn’t pass this job-creating bill in the lame duck session,” she told Reuters.

Lobbyists closely following the discussions said they expected McConnell to bring the bill to a vote in the full Senate before the end of the Congress even if he did not have sufficient support.

A spokesman for McConnell pointed Reuters to the senator’s July statement, in which he said: “Senators will continue their ongoing bipartisan discussions as we work toward a vote in the coming months.”

Reporting by Michelle Price; editing by Steve Orlofsky and Diane Craft

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