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Mar 20, 2012 5:38 PM by Matt Stafford

Senate moves toward vote on small business bill

WASHINGTON (AP) - A popular small business investment bill backed by President Barack Obama appeared headed for passage in the Senate after Democrats fell short in an attempt to rewrite it with stronger investor protections.

The legislation makes it easier for small businesses to raise capital and go public. The bill sailed through the House two weeks ago, and Senate Republicans joined to defeat a Democratic replacement bill Tuesday. Democrats contended that relaxing federal regulations on investment transactions would lead to fraud.

The Senate is expected to pass the bill this week, although it may still require further negotiations with the House.

The Senate is also voting to link the bill to reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, an agency that helps finance sales of U.S. products overseas but is disliked by some conservatives.

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