Unfunded mandates bill advances in the House

The House on Thursday evening approved a rule allowing for consideration of a bill aimed at further reducing unfunded mandates from the federal government on states and companies.

Members approved a rule for the bill, H.R. 899, in a 227-190 vote. That will let the House debate the measure and approve it on Friday.

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The legislation would expand upon the 1995 Unfunded Mandates Reform Act, which was meant to stop the government from passing laws and issuing rules that foisted huge costs on the states and the private sector. Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), the sponsor of the bill, said legislation is needed to ensure all federal agencies are covered by the law, and to make agencies take additional steps to ensure that the lowest-cost rules are adopted.

Her bill would also let courts block rules that aren't developed transparently.

"This bill will ensure the that people who write these regulations in Washington know exactly what they're asking the American people to pay, and whether the costs of compliance will make it harder for family businesses to meet payroll and stay afloat," she said during the rule debate.

While the GOP says Democrats should be on board with the idea of making improvements to the 1995 law, many Democrats are expected to oppose the bill. Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) said Republicans were wasting time on a bill that would go nowhere in the Senate, and would not help companies the way Republicans say it will.

"This bill will not make the regulatory process more balanced or transparent," he said. "It will strangle it in red tape. It will not make rulemaking more fair, it will tip the scales in favor of businesses with the most resources."