Several Republican senators took the opportunity to malign what they described as a vast bureaucracy working in its own interest and undermining economic growth.
"The breadth of regulations is truly punitive on the businesses of America," said Snowe in support of her amendment. "It's clear many people don't understand how essential this amendment is to the survival of small business and to job creation.”
"Let me tell you the way bureaucracy works," said Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) "They don’t do what's best for the country. They do what's safe for the bureaucracy. Let's help them be better.”
Coburn's allegations against the federal bureaucracy were met with consternation from the other side.
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), for example, reminded Coburn that the bureaucracy had played a key role in finding and killing Osama bin Laden. She also accused him of "so routinely" wanting to "degrade the bureaucracy to no good end."
"Would the senator from Oklahoma suggest we have no regulation on Wall Street?" Landrieu asked.
Other parts of the debate centered on the fact that Snowe’s amendment reached the floor without going through the regular committee process.
Snowe defended her amendment against that accusation pointing out that the Senate had voted on a controversial “swipe fee” amendment on Wednesday that also dodged the regular committee process.
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), the sponsor of the underlying Economic Development Act, argued that the regulations Snowe sought to limit through her amendment were essential to public health and safety.
"It would absolutely change the way we can protect our people from pollution and from danger," said Boxer. "It ignores public safety."
Democrats seemed especially sore over Snowe's amendment because it is the same one she proposed earlier in the year that ended up playing a key role in sinking the Small Business Administration (SBA) funding bill. That bill was scuttled after the Senate had spent weeks debating it and its amendments.
The underlying Economic Development Revitalization Act would increase funding for the Public Works and Economic Development Administration.