WASHINGTON - With a battle looming over U.S. regulations on businesses, the top Republican in Congress asked President Barack Obama on Friday to identify all proposed rules with a projected economic impact of at least $1 billion.
House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner said he wants the information before Congress returns early next month from its summer recess. He said the House will consider legislation calling for a congressional review and approval of any proposed federal government regulation.
While the administration is pushing to eliminate what it considers to be old and unneeded regulations, Republicans and the business community complain it is not pushing hard enough and fear new regulations would hurt an already weak economy.
The speaker's letter came three days after the White House released a list of more than 500 possible rule changes it said could save $10 billion over five years.
Boehner unsuccessfully made the same request last year when Obama's fellow Democrats held the House. Now with Republicans in charge, the president is under pressure to comply and a big battle is expected over government regulations.
Boehner wrote that the number of proposed regulations with an annual cost of $100 million or more jumped last year from 191 to 219.
"That's almost a 15 percent increase over last year, and appears to contradict public suggestions by the administration this week that the regulatory burden on American job creators is being scaled back," Boehner wrote.
Rich Robinson of Public Citizen, a public advocacy group, replied by accusing Republicans and their business allies of routinely ignoring the upside of federal regulations.
"Regulatory controls on 'Big Business' have enormous 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," Robinson said.
Robinson cited studies by the Office of Management and Budget during the Obama and Bush administrations that he said found that the benefits of regulations far exceed their costs.
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