May 4, 2007 -- The Iraq war spending bill vetoed this week by President Bush contained a tax-relief measure for small community banks aimed at improving access to capital for local small-business owners.

The Communities First Act, which was included in the spending bill along with $4.8 billion in small-business tax breaks and an increase in the federal minimum wage, sought to exempt smaller lenders from costly Sarbanes-Oxley reporting regulations, among other tax and regulatory reforms.

The measure would also have updated allowable loan limits for small banks and reduced paperwork requirements, while offering tax incentives to encourage lending in rural communities.

"These reforms would have ensured community banks are able to meet the needs of local business owners and promote further job creation," Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.), the chairwomen of the House Small Business Committee, said in a statement.

President Bush vetoed the spending bill on Tuesday because it contained a timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq.

Democratic lawmakers are expected to present a second bill within the next few weeks, which is likely to include the community bank relief provision, as well as the federal minimum wage hike and small-business tax breaks.

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Published on: May 4, 2007