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House Tells Committees To Hunt For Harmful Rules

WASHINGTON (AP) - The House on Friday instructed its committees to hunt down and eliminate government regulations that cause job losses and prevent economic growth.

The debate, which consumed nine hours over two days, was held because Republicans wanted to speak during televised floor sessions. But the resolution had little practical effect, since House Republican leaders had already told committee chairmen to search for - and destroy - harmful rules imposed by unelected bureaucrats. Several committees already held public hearings to spotlight the issue.

Democrats, in vain, suggested the Republicans forgo the debate and simply pass the resolution since both parties would vote for it. However, Democrats did nothing to shorten the time - going to the microphone repeatedly to say the resolution was unnecessary. It passed 391-28.

Republicans and representatives of the business community have been especially critical of Environmental Protection Agency proposals to regulate greenhouse gases and boiler emissions, Occupational Safety and Health Administration workplace rules, and proposals to carry out provisions of legislation to overhaul the health insurance system and financial institutions.

President Barack Obama has ordered a review of all federal requirements to see which regulations are no longer needed, and has started a dialogue with business leaders to discuss their concerns as the 2012 election campaign gets closer. House Democrats have made similar pledges, but have also argued that some regulations protect Americans' safety and health, and prevent consumer fraud.

Before the final vote on the resolution, Democrats unsuccessfully tried to amend it to preserve standards for safe foods and drinking water and children's toys.

Sponsor Russ Carnahan, D-Mo., argued that the rush to kill regulations fails to acknowledge "the financial disaster that was brought upon this country by greed and corruption on Wall Street. It fails to acknowledge the disaster of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. It fails to acknowledge toxic toys and drywall imported from China. It fails to acknowledge the increase in deadly food-borne illness from lax oversight of our food safety system."

Republicans were not about to let Democrats change their resolution. Carnahan's proposal was defeated, 242-178.