Wednesday May 04, 2011 | 06:20 PM

Republicans refused today to allow a small business bill to move to a final vote in the Senate, and one of the major reasons for the floor fight is the refusal of Senate Democrats to allow a vote on an amendment offered by Sen. Olympia Snowe.

The Maine Republican, the top GOP member of the Senate small business committee, has been seeking to have her regulatory overhaul proposal voted on as an amendment to the broader bill, which funds innovation and technology research programs meant to aid small businesses.
 
Snowe says she believes her proposal is relevant to the main bill and should at least get a vote because, in her view, an overly burdensome array of federal regulations harm many small businesses and get in the way of job creation. She seeks, among other things, to require federal agencies to more regularly review regulations for their impact on small businesses.
 
She also said she has attempted to make changes to her bill to address criticism that it would too easily result in regulations simply being wiped out if federal agencies failed to meet review requirements.
 
Democrats say Snowe’s bill is not germane to be included as an amendment, has not yet been vetted in committee and is too broad and far-reaching to deal with on the floor. They also say that regulatory reform is a topic a number of senators are trying to tackle.
 
The amendment was the topic of a heated floor discussion between Snowe and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D. Nev., prior to the congressional spring recess.
 
Snowe’s amendment isn’t the only problem Republicans have with the small business bill. They contend that Reid won’t allow votes on a number of amendments. Reid and his fellow Democrats say they are allowing a number of amendments to be voted on, including some authored by Republicans.
 
But Snowe said she is “mystified” that Democrats won’t allow her proposal, as the top Republican on the small business committee, to be voted on. She said the Senate has plenty of time to debate amendments to the small business bill because it isn’t doing much else right now in terms of bringing important bills to the floor. She said there was no reason for Reid to demand a procedural motion to proceed to a final vote rather than bring her amendment to the floor for debate and a vote.
Instead of holding votes on issues like her amendment, “We go on a two-week recess,” Snowe said, “a fact that was not lost on the American people.”

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Kevin Miller is Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. He has worked as a journalist in Maine for 6 ½ years, covering the environment, politics and the State House. Before arriving in Maine, he wrote about politics, government and education for newspapers in Virginia and Maryland.
Kevin can be reached at 317-6256 or kmiller@mainetoday.com

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