House GOP plans to take on variety of regulations

08/29/2011 12:00 AM

08/29/2011 12:08 AM

WASHINGTON — House Republicans are planning votes for almost every week this fall in an effort to repeal environmental and labor requirements on business that they say have hampered job growth.

With President Obama and his Republican challengers in the 2012 campaign focusing on ways to spur economic growth, House Republicans will roll out plans today to fight regulations from the National Labor Relations Board, pollution rules handed down by the Environmental Protection Agency and regulations that affect health plans for small businesses. In addition, the lawmakers plan to urge a 20 percent tax deduction for small businesses.

"It is essential that the House continue our focus on the jobs crisis," House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., wrote in a memo to be sent to GOP lawmakers today.

The push for a jobs agenda comes as Obama, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and others plan to present their own jobs agendas just after Labor Day.

In mid-August, shortly after lawmakers agreed on a deal to raise the nation's debt ceiling, just 13 percent of voters in a Gallup poll approved of the job Congress was doing, a record low.

Some Republican strategists have been warning party leaders that the focus on cutting spending is not resonating with independent voters, who are most concerned about a sagging economy and an unemployment rate that has exceeded 9 percent for more than two years.

The effort to cut regulations, which House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, alerted Obama to in a letter on Friday, is likely to meet stiff resistance from the Democrat-controlled Senate. And liberal activists have accused Republicans of exaggerating the impact the rules have on job growth and discounting their health benefits.

"They save lives and reduce illness. Less pollution, for instance, means fewer cases of asthma and lung disease. Having safer toys on store shelves means fewer children dying after choking on small parts," said Public Citizen, a consumer watchdog group.

In Wyoming last week, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said the tools to boost an economic recovery are "outside the province of the central bank," suggesting that Congress and Obama must find the right mix of fiscal policy.

In his letter, Boehner asked the president to report "all pending and planned rulemakings" that would have an impact of more than $1 billion on the economy.

The Cantor memo provided additional details on the regulatory focus.

The week of Sept. 12, House Republicans will try to overrule an NLRB ruling that restricts Boeing's effort to transfer an assembly line from Washington state to South Carolina. Business leaders accuse the Obama administration of interfering to try to help their labor allies, because South Carolina is a right-to-work state with fewer unions. Labor leaders say the aerospace company is seeking a spot for cheaper labor.

The next month or so will focus on EPA regulations. House Republicans would pull back an effort to regulate coal ash in mining-heavy states that they say would hinder concrete production and cost more than 100,000 jobs. Through the fall and winter, Cantor said, the caucus will vote on at least 10 regulations that committee chairmen have identified as "costly bureaucratic handcuffs that Washington has imposed upon business."

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