The U.S. House Ways and Means Committee approved a $46 billion small-business tax break on a 21-14 party-line vote, as Republicans eager to aid companies' cash flow overcame Democratic objections.

Under the bill, companies with fewer than 500 workers in either 2010 or 2011 would be eligible to deduct 20 percent of their profits in 2012. Such a broad tax cut with few limits would give small companies money to reinvest in their businesses, said Representative Dave Camp, the committee chairman, as the panel considered the bill today.

"These business owners are real experts who know what they need to add jobs back to our communities," said Camp, a Michigan Republican.

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