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GOP House Members Pass Bills to Limit Obama Agencies' Regulatory Power

Before leaving for a five-week recess Friday, the House of Representatives passed a series of Republican-sponsored bills aimed at restricting the ability of the federal government to impose what are viewed as costly regulations. However, the bills have little chance of clearing the Democratically controlled Senate. If they do President Obama has signaled that he will veto the measures.

One bill, (HR 1582), which cleared the House Thursday by 232-181, would give the secretary of the Department of Energy (DOE) the power to veto any Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule that "will cause significant adverse effects on the economy." The majority of Democrats in the House voted against the measure, but nine joined Republicans to pass the measure. Obama has said he will veto the measure if necessary.

The bill, which was introduced by Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) in April, would require the EPA, before promulgating a final rule that regulates any aspect of the production, supply, distribution or use of energy, and that is estimated to impose aggregate costs of more than $1 billion, to submit a report to Congress. Cassidy is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

The report should include estimates of the total costs and increases in energy prices stemming from the rule, and a detailed description of the employment impact.

Questioned as to what the point was of passing unilateral Republican bills, Cassidy spokesman John Cummins said he was optimistic on the bill's fate in the Senate. "I think we'll just have to see what happens when it goes to the Senate." He noted that Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) has introduced a companion bill in the Senate.

Even if it clears the Senate, the bill faces a veto threat by the president. "Let's just take it one step at a time," Cummins said.

As their last act before leaving for recess, the House voted out by 232-183 legislation (H.R. 367) that would require a joint resolution of approval from Congress before any major rule of Obama administration agencies (costing more than $100 million) could have the force or effect of law. The so-called REINS Act was sponsored by Rep. Todd Young (R-IN).

 Both bills (H.R. 1582 and H.R. 367) are part of the Republican's strategy to scale back federal regulations, which the GOP contends have blocked economic growth, while Democrats counter that Republicans are simply trying to block the EPA and other agencies from pursuing clean air and water for the nation, Capitol Hill observers say.

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