WASHINGTON — The House on Thursday passed a bipartisan package of legislative measures aimed at improving the ability of small businesses and certain banks to access capital.
The measure, known as the JOBS Act, included a number of relatively small bills that had already passed the House by wide margins.
Included in the package is a measure — long sought by the banking industry — that would raise the trigger requiring banks to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission from 500 to 2,000 shareholders.
The banking measure, which is sponsored by Republican Rep. Ben Quayle, is substantially similar is a previously passed version sponsored by Democratic Rep. Jim Himes.
Another portion of the House bill would make it easier for small businesses to raise funds from small investors through a process known as crowd-funding.
The House's passage of the JOBS Act was widely expected, but there remain questions about how the Senate will proceed.
In a floor speech Thursday, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor urged the Senate to approve the House package as is.
"In his State of the Union address, President Obama asked Congress to send him a bill that helps startups and entrepreneurs succeed," Cantor said. "I strongly urge Senator Reid to take up this bill as quickly as possible and let's get it to the president's desk.
But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid appears to be inclined to let the Senate negotiate its own version of the legislation, which will probably include greater protections for investors, and then seek to reconcile it with the House version.
The details of the Senate package remain up in the air, but they are likely to come into focus within the next week.
American Banker reported last week that Democratic Sens. Mark Udall and Carl Levin had put holds on the Senate bill to raise the 500-shareholder cap for banks.
Those holds might be overcome, but they illustrate some of the challenges that Senate Democrats are facing as they try to find a legislative compromise that is broadly acceptable to members of both parties.