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VOL. 126 | NO. 236 | Monday, December 5, 2011

House Republicans Pass Major Anti-Regulation Bill

LARRY MARGASAK | Associated Press

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WASHINGTON (AP) – In an ambitious gesture to their business allies, House Republicans passed legislation Friday that critics say would prevent the government from protecting Americans at their workplaces, in their homes, and when they want a breath of fresh air.

The 253-167 vote sent the bill to the Democratic-run Senate, where it's likely to die. Just in case, the White House has issued a veto threat.

Republicans insist the legislation would simply let the government seek lower-cost regulations. But Democrats and the White House said the aim was getting rid of aggressive rules approved by the Obama administration by imposing numerous hurdles on agencies before new rules could be issued.

Federal courts would have an expanded role, and the government would have a tougher legal standard to meet before a proposed rule could be adopted.

"America faces an avalanche of unnecessary federal regulatory costs," Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, the House Judiciary Committee chairman, said during House debate. "Yet the Obama administration seeks to add billions more to that cost."

Democratic Rep. George Miller of California denounced the bill, saying the U.S. has spent great time and effort "to ensure when workers go to work every day, they will return safely to their home."

"This legislation begins to bring that to an end because it would needlessly and recklessly expose our workers to injuries," said Miller, the senior Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee.

At this point, the fight over this and other anti-regulation bills approved by the GOP-led House is mainly a 2012 campaign issue, since they have little chance in the Democratic-run Senate.

Until now, Republicans have focused on derailing specific rules and regulations from President Barack Obama's administration, many of them from the Environmental Protection Agency. The latest effort, however, would curtail regulators and their proposed rules across the entire federal government.

OMB Watch, an advocacy organization that tracks federal regulations, said that if the bill were already law, it would have stopped the government from issuing its finding that greenhouse gases endanger public health. The group said it also would have hindered the government's efforts to declare a popular weed killer dangerous, make statements about the effects of too much salt on people's health, and issue a strong rule on lead in gasoline.

Still to come, probably next week, is a House bill that would make it far easier for Congress to kill regulations.

Republicans received support from Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., top Democrat on the Agriculture Committee.

"In agriculture we have been dealing with innumerable problems that have been brought by regulations that are not properly vetted and seem to be for people that have a lack of understanding of exactly what's going on in agriculture," he said.

"So this legislation gives us an overhaul ... to make sure that we have more openness, more transparency, more accountability in these regulations. More time, more analysis."

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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