After fixing a typographical error in the bill, on Thursday the House of Representatives voted 245-172 in favor of a bill that would prevent agencies from taking any significant regulatory action until the unemployment rate is 6% or lower. The bill had incorrectly referred to “employment” rather than “unemployment” rate. The Regulatory Freeze for Jobs Act of 2012 (H.R. 4078) defines “regulatory action” as “any substantive action by an agency that promulgates or is expected to lead to the promulgation of a final rule or regulation, including a notice of inquiry, an advance notice of proposed rulemaking, and a notice of proposed rulemaking.” A regulatory action deemed “significant” under the bill is one:
likely to result in a rule or guidance that the Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs of the Office of Management and Budget finds is likely to have an annual cost to the economy of $50,000,000 or more or adversely affect in a material way the economy, a sector of the economy, productivity, competition, jobs, the environment, public health or safety, small entities, or State, local, or tribal governments or communities.
The President would be able to waive this regulatory moratorium via executive order for reasons such as imminent threat to health or safety, the enforcement of criminal laws, the enforcement of civil rights, national security, or pursuant to an international trade agreement.
The $50,000,000 financial threshold was originally set at $100,000,000 under the terms of the bill, but was reduced via amendment offered by Rep. David McKinley (R-WV). Several other amendments to the bill were rejected, including one offered by Rep. Laura Richardson (D-CA) that would have ensured that the provisions of the Affordable Care Act would be carried out, and another offered by Rep. George Miller (D-CA) that would have exempted from the definition of “significant regulatory action” a rule establishing a combustible dust standard.
This measure is not expected to advance in the Senate.