Democratic leaders cleared the way on Tuesday for sweeping patent-reform legislation to be voted on when the Senate returns in September, lumping the bill together with other measures designed to create jobs.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., told reporters that the first step would be action on a House-passed version of a patent-reform bill. He said he would file cloture on the measure on Tuesday, before the chamber leaves for the August recess. That would queue the bill up for floor action when the Senate returns on September 6.
If approved and signed into law, the bill would be the first major overhaul of the U.S. patent system in 60 years.
Following passage of the debt-ceiling bill, Democrats said they will shift to focusing from budgeting to job creation. “The decks are now clear for a single-minded focus on jobs in September,” Senate Democratic Policy and Communications Chairman Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said at a news conference.
In a Rose Garden appearance on Tuesday afternoon, President Obama said passing patent-reform legislation is one of several steps necessary to jump-start the job market.
“Through patent reform, we can cut the red tape that stops too many inventors and entrepreneurs from quickly turning new ideas into thriving businesses—which holds our whole economy back,” he said.
Both the Senate and House have passed versions of patent legislation, but the two measures differed slightly, setting up another vote in the Senate. The White House has expressed support for the bill during debates in both chambers.
Among other things, the bill would transition the United States to a “first-to-file” patent system, under which patents would be awarded to the inventor who first files an application. The bill also makes changes to the fee system at the Patent and Trademark Office.