House Republicans on Tuesday debuted a comprehensive economic package intended to rebut President Obama's claims that their party hasn't done enough to help small businesses and entrepreneurs.
But Democrats have ridiculed the bundle of six bills as redundant and a waste of time since half the measures already have passed the House with wide bipartisan support.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican, said the so-called Jumpstart Our Business Startups (Jobs) Act, which is aimed at easing Securities and Exchange Commission regulations and giving small businesses better access to capital, would "make sure that America's once again a [business] startup country."
Three of the six bills passed the House last year with overwhelming bipartisan support. One would make it easier for small businesses to go public by increasing the offering threshold for companies exempted from SEC registration to $50 million from $5 million. The measure passed the House in November by a vote of 421-1, but it has stalled in the Senate.
Another measure would lift an SEC ban preventing small businesses from using advertisements to solicit investors, while still another would allow businesses to recruit more investors without having to file as a public company.
"If we're serious about growing out economy and creating opportunities for our fellow citizens, making sure that we get rid of the red tape and that people have access to capital is critically important," said House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican.
Mr. Cantor said he expects a vote on the package next week.
But House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer said the Republican package was nothing more than a collection of "old bills." And while he said he doesn't "see any reason why we wouldn't pass them overwhelmingly again and send them to the Senate," he said it "clearly is not the jobs bill that we are looking for."
The Maryland Democrat added that instead of repackaging bills that already have cleared the House, House Republican leaders should turn their efforts to getting a stalled transportation infrastructure bill to the floor.
Democrats also complained that one bill in the package — a measure recently introduced by Rep. Benjamin Quayle, Arizona Republican — closely resembles a Democratic bill that overwhelming passed the House last year.
But the White House on Tuesday refrained from knocking the Republican effort, saying there was "great overlap" between the small-business package and Obama administration policies.
"That's a perfect example of an area where we can find common ground," White House press secretary Jay Carney said.
House GOP leaders had invited AOL co-founder Steve Case to attend a Tuesday news conference touting their economic package, but he was a no-show. Mr. Cantor said a scheduling conflict prevented him from attending.
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