GOP looks to ban federal regulations until unemployment falls to 6 percent

Rep. Tim Griffin (R-Ark.) sponsored the bill along with 14 other Republicans who have argued that the government needs to reduce the number of rules it puts out in order to give companies a breather from additional compliance mandates while the economy struggles to recover.

"Over the past year, I've talked to job creators from all over Arkansas — folks who run businesses of all sizes," Griffin said. "They've told me this Administration is burying them in regulations, which is hurting their ability to grow their businesses and create jobs. Under President Obama, the number of costly regulations reviewed and finalized has skyrocketed when compared to the previous administration."

At the same time, the bill sets a relatively low target rate for unemployment, in some ways an admission that the nation's employment picture has continued to improve. The Obama administration in early February said the unemployment rate fell to 8.3 percent in January and the economy created 243,000 jobs — far more than economists expected.

Last summer, when the unemployment rate was above 9 percent, Senate Republicans proposed a bill aimed at blocking new federal regulations until the rate fell to 7.7 percent. That proposed was based on the 7.8 percent rate that existed when Obama took office.

Despite the uptick in new private-sector jobs and a sharp drop in new weekly unemployment claims, Republicans have argued that a big reason for the improving unemployment rate is the hundreds of thousand of people who have stopped looking for work, which brings down the unemployment rate. The GOP says the federal government still needs to do more to create an environment conducive to creating jobs and luring people back into the job market.

The labor force participation rate fell from 65.7 percent when Obama first took office to 63.7 percent, a drop that represents millions of people who have left the workforce. Some estimates say that if the labor force participation rate was still 65.7 percent today, the unemployment rate would still be above 10 percent.

— This story was updated on February 27, to include comments from Rep. Griffin.