House approves measure addressing federal regulations
Updated: 4:40 p.m.
The House voted overwhelmingly Friday in favor of a bill to rein in federal regulations, capping off a nine-and-a-half-hour debate.
The measure, which directs 10 House committees to review whether federal regulations are impeding job growth, passed on a vote of 391 to 28, with 14 members not voting. All Republicans present voted in favor of the measure, as did 153 Democrats, including all members of the Democratic leadership. Twenty-eight Democrats, mostly liberal members, voted "no."
Many Democrats had assailed the measure as unnecessary and argued that the time spent debating it could have been better used working toward a jobs bill. A number of Democrats, including House Oversight Committee Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), highlighted the benefits of regulation, noting that government rules are necessary to protect consumers and workers.
"We swore that we would protect Americans, and that's what this is all about," Cummings said during the floor debate, arguing that some of the plus points of regulations include "the benefit of not seeing a baby strangled in a crib" and the benefit of being assured that food that is not contaminated.
California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the Oversight Committee, later charged that Cummings was unfairly accusing the entire Republican Party of wanting to roll back regulations that protect children and others.
"I think we're bigger than those accusations," Issa said on the House floor.
The debate kept lawmakers in the chamber until 10 p.m. Thursday, only to resume less than 12 hours later.
Ultimately, most Democrats voted for the bill, as a rejection could have been interpreted as a vote against a job creation measure.
"I don't object to this resolution instructing committees to do what they should already be doing," House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said in his floor speech. "But after this resolution is passed, I urge my colleagues to return to the real work of creating jobs."
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's (R-Va.) office cast the vote as a sign that Democratic leaders had joined House Republicans in their cut-and-grow agenda.
"For past month Leader Pelosi, Whip Hoyer, and Assistant Leader Clyburn have claimed the Republican Agenda doesn't do anything to promote job creation, but today that apparently all changed," Cantor's office said in a statement. "The Democrat Leadership and an overwhelming majority of their caucus (153 Dems in all) joined the Cut and Grow Agenda and voted to investigate and possibly eliminate the very onerous regulation Democrats spent the previous two years passing."
Friday's vote came one day after Issa chaired an Oversight Committee hearing at which business leaders took aim at regulations that they said stand in the way of job growth.
President Obama last month issued an executive order calling on federal agencies to review their existing regulations and laying out a set of principles for any new rules adopted.
| February 11, 2011; 3:10 PM ET
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