WASHINGTON (CN) - The House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday approved a Republican bill called the Regulatory Freeze for Jobs Act, which Democrats called a ruse to deregulate under the guise of job creation.
The committee approved the bill by vote of 15 to 13. Republicans said it "will provide immediate relief to small businesses and freeze the implementation of significant regulations by the Obama administration."
Introduced by Rep. Tim Griffin, R-Ark., the bill puts a moratorium on new significant regulations until the national unemployment rate stabilizes at or below 6 percent.
"The Obama administration has quickly turned the United States into a regulation nation," Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas said. "This administration has adopted an unprecedented amount of costly new regulations, which hinder small business growth and stall job creation."
Several House Democrats scoffed at the call for deregulation.
"This is a great exercise in illogic sometimes," said Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., who said the bill aims to kill all regulations, good and bad.
"I don't understand why we would want to do this to good regulations," Conyers said. He cited a report from the Office of Management and Budget, published last week, on the costs and benefits of federal regulations. Conyers said the report shows that the benefits of regulations far outweigh the costs.
"The net benefits of regulations promulgated through the third fiscal year of the Obama administration have exceeded $91 billion," Conyers said, reading from the report.
Smith had numbers of his own, claiming that a Small Business Administration study found that regulations cost the American economy $1.75 trillion annually: that's more than 7 percent of the Gross National Product.
"We need to encourage small businesses to expand, not tie them up with red tape," Smith said, reading from a prepared statement.
Conyers offered an amendment that would exclude regulations that protect the privacy of Americans.
"Who would be against that?" Conyers asked.
Griffin said Conyers' amendment was unnecessary because of exceptions already in the bill, though he said he appreciated the amendment's spirit.
"I want to thank you for the compliment, but if it's repetitive, that shouldn't bother anybody on the Judiciary Committee," Conyers responded.
The Committee voted against the amendment with all 17 present Republicans voting against it, and all 12 present Democrats voting for it.
Democrats used the remaining debate time to criticize President George W. Bush's deregulation policies, and to characterize the Regulatory Freeze Act as a political opportunity for Republicans to deregulate under the guise of job creation.
"All this nonsense about deregulation is saying, 'Let's make this country less safe. Let's kill more people in accidents, let's kill more people with air pollution, let's have more people burn up in exploding cars, let's have more people poisoned by uninspected food all in the name of making life more lucrative for big business, but with the excuse of jobs,'" said Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y.
Nadler proposed an amendment to change the title of the bill to The Nuclear Death and Destruction Act of 2012.