public policy

House passes bill to curb U.S. rules costly for businesses

Posted 12/2/11

WASHINGTON - The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that would force more government analysis of how a regulation affects businesses before a rule takes effect.

The House voted 263-159 Dec. 1 for the measure, which President Barack Obama’s administration has threatened to veto. Lawmakers will consider two additional measures this month that would limit what Republicans call the regulatory overreach of the administration, which they said impedes the economic recovery.

“The economy is already on shaky footing, and so it is more important than ever for regulators to look before leaping,” Representative Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican and sponsor of the measure, said in debate before the vote.

The legislation would amend a 1980 law, which required the government to consider the economic impact of regulations limiting pollution or protecting health. The measure passed Dec. 1 would force agencies to describe alternatives to a proposed rule that might minimize any adverse economic impact on small businesses. It would require a cumulative accounting of the costs of all rules on companies.

The measure “would impose unneeded and costly analytical and procedural requirements on agencies,” the White House Office and Management and Budget said in a statement on Nov. 29 after reviewing the bill. “It would also create needless regulatory and legal uncertainty.”

‘Frivolous Litigation’

It would “invite frivolous litigation,” OMB said in the statement that said Obama’s advisers would recommend a veto if it passes both houses of Congress. The measure hasn’t been considered in the Senate.

Two additional measures to curb agency powers on new regulations will be considered in the House this month.

A measure set for debate next week would require a vote in Congress on every major rule, which is defined as costing the economy at least $100 million. Another, which may come up as early as tomorrow, would require the administration to choose the least costly option when establishing a new rule and provide scope for more legal challenges to regulations.

The legislation passed today is H.R. 527. The other measures are H.R. 3010 and H.R. 10.

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