Hint of Bipartisanship on a Jobs Bill

It may not be the end of the cold war, but a hint of bipartisanship is glimmering on Capitol Hill as leaders from both parties inch toward the day of reckoning with an angry electorate.

House Republicans on Tuesday unveiled a new JOBS Act, or Jump-Start Our Business Start-Ups, bundling together six modest bills that have broad bipartisan support and are designed to ease small businesses’ access to capital. President Obama greeted the package with unqualified support. Harry Reid of Nevada, the Senate majority leader, announced he would soon move forward with a similar package.

Only House Democrats – who have the most to lose from a sudden burst of progress – played down the package.

“I call it ‘just old bills,’” Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the Democratic whip, said of the JOBS Act.

The new package will not change the world, although House Republicans might disagree. Representative Nan Hayworth, Republican of New York and a big target for the Democrats, declared the bill “will truly transform the climate for our businesses.”

But it could signal the start of a changing dynamic. House Republicans are open to demands by constituents about whether they can work with Democrats to govern. Come the November elections, they are going to need to prove they can. Senate Democrats, hoping to hold on to their slim majority, also have reason to show legislative comity, as does President Obama, who campaigned in 2008 as the candidate who would rise above partisanship.

“There’s nothing wrong with having a debate about philosophy, but at the end of the day, we have to do something about jobs,” said Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the Republican whip.

The six provisions of the House package have either already passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan votes or passed out of their committees with little or no opposition.

One measure slows down the implementation of certain Securities and Exchange Commission regulations that allow small companies to go public with less cost. Another removes an S.E.C. prohibition on small companies using advertisements to solicit investors, a ban that dates to 1982. One measure lifts restrictions on “crowd funding” so entrepreneurs can raise capital from large pools of small investors.

Still another increases the number of shareholders permitted to invest in a community bank to 2,000, from 500. That last one was initially written by a Democrat, Representative Jim Himes of Connecticut, Mr. Hoyer said. But authorship of the version coming to a vote is being given to a freshman Republican, Representative Ben Quayle of Arizona.

The bill’s unveiling was the closest thing to a kumbaya moment Congress has seen for a while, albeit with separate celebrations. No Democrats were on hand for the House Republican event, but Representative Shelley Moore Capito, a West Virginia Republican, said the bill itself was proof to her constituents that Republicans and Democrats were capable of doing something together for job creation.

Seconding that assessment, Representative Stephen Fincher of Tennessee, a freshman Republican, said, “This shows you that we can work together.”

“The president seems willing to actually work with us,” Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the House majority leader, said with some astonishment.

A White House spokeswoman, Amy Brundage, released a statement praising the legislation while not relinquishing too much credit.

“The president is encouraged to see that there is common ground between his approach and what Congressman Cantor outlined today, and we urge members of both parties in the House and Senate to come together on these provisions and do what the resident called for in the State of the Union address: send him a bill without delay,” she said.

But Mr. Hoyer stuck with his script, saying that another week will pass with the House refusing to deal with the most pressing issue at hand: job creation.