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Tempers flare on House floor over GOP typo

Republicans and Democrats got snippy on the House floor Wednesday over a typo in a GOP deregulation bill, which Democrats have so far refused to let Republicans fix quickly on the floor by unanimous consent.

The bill, H.R. 4078, is meant to prohibit major federal regulations until the unemployment rate falls to 6 percent, but instead says no new regulations can be issued until the employment rate falls to 6 percent.

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Earlier in the day, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said he would not grant unanimous consent to add "un" to the word "employment" and thus fix the bill on the floor. And Wednesday afternoon, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) indicated that Democrats were not willing yet to allow the quick fix.

House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) asked Connolly if he would object to a unanimous consent request to make the correction. Issa cast the error as a mistake made by professional staff.

But in reply, Connolly said, "This member will reserve the right to object at the appropriate time."

"Nothing could be more insincere than to pick on professional staff on a typographical error," Issa shot back. "If we have to … go to the Rules Committee, I guess we will, but I'm really sorry to see that kind of an attitude on what the gentleman and all of us know was simply a typographical error."

Connolly then took umbrage with Issa's remark, and asked the presiding officer, "Did this member hear … the distinguished chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee characterize a member as insincere?"

The chair offered no help, but rather than stop the proceedings and ask for Issa's words to be assessed, he asked the chair to "caution all members about personal characterizations of members on the floor of the House."

"I meant nothing other than, I was shocked that the gentleman would say that he would reserve time on what was clearly a typographical error," Issa said after the kerfuffle.

The House continued to debate the bill on schedule, although Connolly's response indicates that the House Rules Committee will somehow have to address the problem before final passage of the bill, which is expected tomorrow.

Republicans have described the Democratic reaction to the typo as "petty," and have noted that when Republicans were in the minority, they allowed Democrats to make changes to bills on the floor by unanimous consent.

After debate, the House was expected to begin debating up to 25 amendments to the bill.