WASHINGTON - The Republican-run House voted to give Congress greater power to approve or reject major federal rules that the GOP calls "job killers" - regulations covering everything from health care to dangerous children's toys.
The 241-184 vote Wednesday sent the bill to the Senate, where majority Democrats are unlikely to place it on the schedule.
The legislation would shift power from unelected agency regulators, many of them experts in their fields, to Congress to decide on proposals that have a potential economic impact of more than $100 million.
Democrats contend Republicans would use the authority to jeopardize rules covering health care, the workplace and food safety, and protection from defective consumer products - and many more protections.
Republicans say the shift from unelected regulators to elected lawmakers is needed to kill the costliest regulations because they prevent companies from expanding and hiring workers.
"The American people today have been hit by an onslaught of unnecessary federal regulations," said Rep. Lamar Smith (R., Texas), who heads the Judiciary Committee. "From the Obama administration's health-care mandate to the increase of burdens on small businesses, government regulation has become a barrier to economic growth and job creation."
"Baloney," said Rep. Jim Himes (D., Conn.). "There isn't a fact in there."
"The mother of all anti-regulatory bills," said opponent Rep. John Conyers (D., Mich.). Rep. Steve Cohen (D., Tenn.) asked why a Congress with a 9 percent approval rating in some polls should be entrusted with these new powers.
The chief Republican sponsor of the bill, Rep. Geoff Davis of Kentucky, complained that the administration was using regulations "as an end run around Congress" to obtain what it can't get from the GOP-run House. He said the bill would include a provision that the Senate could not use a filibuster to prevent a vote on a regulation.
Just last week, Republicans passed another bill that also took aim at regulators across the government. Republicans said that measure would force regulators to follow presidential directives that have been ignored, including seeking lower-cost alternatives.
Neither bill has much of a chance in the Senate, where the Democratic majority decides which bills can be placed on the agenda. Regardless, the White House budget office said that if either bill ever reached Obama's desk, senior advisers would recommend a veto.
the bill to expand Congress' role in approving or rejecting federal regulations were Charles W. Dent (R., Pa.), Michael Fitzpatrick (R., Pa.), Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.), Frank A. LoBiondo (R., N.J.), Pat Meehan (R., Pa.), Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.), Jon Runyan (R., N.J.), and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).