Jay Heflin reports at The Hill that Senate Small Business Chairwoman Mary Landrieu (D-La.) on Wednesday said her chamber will pass legislation by the end of the week that creates a $30 billion lending pool for small businesses and provides approximately $12 billion in tax relief for these organizations.

We believe we have the 60 votes to get this done,” she told reporters, adding, “We’re hoping at the end that we actually have some Republicans join us for a bill that makes so much sense.”

Landrieu said negotiations were ongoing with Sen. George LeMieux (R-Fla.) on getting him to support the bill.

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Landrieu did not say if she expected other Republicans to support the bill.

A vote on the measure is expected to occur after the Senate extends unemployment insurance, which is expected later today.

The lending pool in the small-business bill has come under fire by Republicans who contend it will create another TARP scenario by giving the Treasury authority over which small banks receive the funds to lend to small businesses.

Landreiu said the lending provision will be stripped from the original bill and then will be offered as the bill’s only amendment to illustrate who supports the pool.

“We want to highlight the fact of who’s actually stepping up to help small businesses through small banks,” she said.

An amendment on the estate tax offered by Sens. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) will not be offered.

Landrieu said if the lending amendment fails the other portions of the bill will move forward. The other sections provide small-business tax relief and extend Small Business Administration loans. However, without the lending provision, the senator does not think the bill will pass.

“I don’t think it will pass without this in it,” she said.

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