WASHINGTON — Rep. Allen Boyd, a Panhandle Democrat locked in a tough re-election fight, was the only Florida lawmaker and one of only 13 Democrats overall to cross party lines and oppose a small-business bill approved Thursday in the U.S. House.
The bill, which gives billions of dollars in tax breaks and credit assistance to small businesses, is a top priority for Democratic leaders seeking to bolster the economy in advance of November's midterm elections.
It will go to President Barack Obama for his signature after the Senate passed identical legislation last week.
Boyd of Monticello survived his primary last month, and the seven-term incumbent is in national Republican crosshairs as he faces Steve Southerland. Voting with Democrats might have further endangered him.
Republicans cast the legislation as another government stimulus. "What we have today before us is junior TARP," said Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, R-Miami, referring to the controversial $700 billion bank bailout.
The vote was 237-187.
Three members of the Florida delegation missed the vote: Kendrick Meek, D-Miami; Kathy Castor, D-Tampa; and C.W. Bill Young, R-Indian Shores.
The longest-serving Republican member in Congress, Young, 79, had back surgery this summer and was expected to return to Washington last week. Instead, Young likely will not return until after the election, spokesman Harry Glenn said.
"The rehab is just taking a little bit longer," Glenn said, adding that Young's doctors "strongly recommended he keep doing the therapy as long as he can without interruption."
Meek missed the vote because of U.S. Senate campaign obligations in Florida. Castor was in Washington but missed the vote because of misinformation from staff about when it would occur. She later added her support.
Democrats praised the measure for creating a $30 billion federal fund to help smaller banks issue loans to small businesses and for cutting taxes by $12 billion over the coming decade.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.