House Republicans pace their rollout of regulatory review

As he prepares for a key Thursday hearing on regulatory review, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., is making it plain that business leaders, and not individuals, employee organizations or advocacy groups, will steer his effort to identify and curb agency regulations seen as impeding job creation.

On Monday, Issa released the batch of letters on questionable regulations he'd solicited from businesses on a website under the headline "Listening to America's Job Creators" and text that asked, "Where does Washington help, and where does it hurt?"

And on Tuesday, the oversight panel leader released the witness list for his Feb. 10 hearing, which includes: Jay Timmons, chief executive officer of the National Association of Manufacturers; Harry Alford, CEO of the Black Chamber of Commerce; Karen Kerrigan, president of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council; Tom Nassif, president and CEO of the Western Growers Association; Jerry Ellig, senior research fellow at George Mason University's Mercatus Center; James Gattuso, senior research fellow in regulatory policy at the Heritage Foundation; Michael J. Fredrich, president of MCM Composites LLC; and Jack Buschur, president of Buschur Electric.

"This hearing is an opportunity for private industry to put their money where their mouth is by specifically detailing real examples of how regulations are standing in the way of job creation," Issa spokesman Kurt Bardella said. "If they can't successfully do that, they'll be hard-pressed to convince policymakers and the American people that regulatory reforms are needed. President Obama has recognized the value in having this discussion, and has called on industry to get off the sidelines and actively engage in this dialogue. Together we can lead a robust and expansive discussion answering the fundamental question of what is standing in the way of private sector job creation."

Also on Tuesday, the advocacy group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington released a searchable database of the letters, including some that had not previously been available.

The Republicans' review is being broadened to 10 House committees. The House Rules Committee on Tuesday approved a rule that will provide for 9 1/2 hours of debate on the House floor on a resolution that instructs the major House committees to "inventory and review existing, pending and proposed regulations and orders from agencies of the federal government, particularly with respect to their effect on jobs and economic growth."

During a hearing Tuesday, Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier, R-Calif., thanked Obama for joining in on the regulatory review, which was in the Republican campaign document called the Pledge to America. Dreier said the top priority is "reining in the red-tape factor."

Rep. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, the second-ranking Democrat on the Rules panel, said the Republican plan to spend a day debating the resolution was merely "restating the obvious and rehashing old press releases." He blasted Republicans for "being in our second month without a single piece of legislation to create new jobs," and suggested instead that lawmakers use the floor time to proceed directly to specifics on which regulations are problematic. Some members have lists of regulations already identified, he said.

Dreier responded that the resolution would give all committee chairs a chance to participate in the regulatory review and to establish priorities.

Matthew Madia, a regulatory analyst at the advocacy and research group OMB Watch, blasted the resolution. It puts "a veneer of legitimacy over a blatantly political and industry-friendly process in which lobbyists and their congressional allies identify rules they object to and plan attacks on them," he wrote in a blog. "The resolution would allow those anti-regulatory folks to claim that they are operating with some sort of uniform methodology." He called on the House to add transparency provisions to the resolution and to instruct committees to make public, on their websites, the list of rules they have identified and the criteria used for evaluating them.

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