WASHINGTON – Congress gave final approval to a popular, but controversial, bill that aims to make it easier for small businesses to access investment capital, sending President Barack Obama one of his top job-creation priorities in a rare burst of bipartisanship.
Even as consumer regulators warned the bill could lead to a new era of investor fraud, swift passage had been sought by both Republicans and Democrats intent on scoring a political victory on the jobs front, which remains among the most pressing issues for voters.
The House approved the measure 380-41 – an overwhelming majority, but with nearly twice as many detractors as an earlier version, despite Senate efforts to beef up protections for investors.
The White House said it was “heartened” that the GOP-led chamber agreed with changes made by the Senate to strengthen investor protections, and pledged to closely monitor the outcome once the bill becomes law.
Mostly the White House appeared pleased that in this era of partisan brinkmanship, Congress was able to serve up a political win on one of the priorities the president had outlined in an economic address last fall. “We applaud Republicans and Democrats for working together, but there is still much more work to be done to create jobs and strengthen the recovery,” said White House spokeswoman Amy Brundage.
It is unclear if the legislation will give Congress or the White House the desired boost among voters, as experts have said the Jump-Start Our Business Startups, or JOBS Act, would not immediately create new employment. After the president signs the bill into law, it will not take effect until new investment rules are written by the Securities and Exchange Commission, a process that could push into next year.
At the same time, consumer advocates have issued grave warnings that the legislation will weaken regulatory oversight of stock offerings to private investors, particularly in the emerging practice of soliciting investors online through so-called crowd-funds.