JOBS bill clears Congress, despite warnings

    WASHINGTON — Congress gave final approval to a popular but increasingly controversial bill designed to make it easier for small businesses to raise money, even as consumer advocates warned that the measure could usher in a new era of investor fraud.

    In a rare burst of bipartisanship, the House approved the measure, 380-41, on Tuesday. The legislation would loosen regulations on small businesses and start-up firms seeking to attract needed capital, including through public stock offerings.

    Most Republicans and Democrats pushed for swift passage, intent on scoring a political victory on legislation that backers said would spur job growth.

    The White House said it was "heartened" that the GOP-led chamber agreed to the Senate's changes and pledged to monitor the effect once the bill becomes law.

    Many experts have said the Jumpstart Our Business Startups, or JOBS, Act, would not immediately create jobs. After the president signs the bill into law, it won't take full effect until new investment rules are written by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

    Consumer advocates had warned that the legislation will weaken regulatory oversight of stock offerings to private investors, and they were particularly concerned about the emerging practice of soliciting investors online and through social media, called crowd funding.

    They also warned that easing advertising regulations could lead to fraudulent schemes targeting seniors and other vulnerable investors.

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