The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday passed a jobs bill backed by President Barack Obama that Republican leaders said would help small businesses expand and hire new workers.
House speaker John Boehner said the measure, which passed by a vote of 390 to 23, would give a shot in the arm to business owners across the United States.
"This bill will really help small businesses around our country, jump-start them, provide access to capital," the top House Republican told reporters.
"Having run a small business myself, I know how difficult it is to jump through the bureaucratic hoops and red tape to get a business up and running," Boehner said.
"I think this bill will make it easier for businesses and start-ups to put the capital that they need together in order to grow jobs in our country."
But while Republicans hailed the bill as major job-creation legislation, Democrats said it was just a minor fix for the doldrums ailing the U.S. economy.
Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in the House, at her weekly press conference downplayed the "meager" potential impact of the bill, saying she would have preferred a more robust piece of legislation.
"Let's not mistake it for what we need to do for a real serious comprehensive jobs bill for our country," Pelosi said.
Among the provisions in the legislation is a measure to create a new class of companies labeled as "emerging growth companies" that would enjoy relaxed rules under the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The bill also would end an SEC ban on small company advertisements to solicit capital, allow the solicitation of funds over the Internet and increase the number of shareholders allowed to invest in community banks from 500 to 2,000.
It was not clear when the Senate would take up the measure.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012