Democrats on the Senate Budget Committee today rejected an amendment I proposed that would have protected small businesses and the private sector by establishing a 60 vote Senate threshold to pass legislation that imposes overly burdensome, unfunded federal mandates.

We here in Washington must stop thinking we have a monopoly on good ideas, and to that end, the Senate needs a procedural tool to remind ourselves that the policies we pass under this great dome often translate to direct cost increases for Main Street.  It is unfortunate that some of my Democrat colleagues still work under the assumption that big government knows best, and do not realize that the inflexible, one-size-fits-all approach to regulation is a roadblock to market-based solutions.

There is no question: today’s vote was a vote against small businesses, and against working families.  I am deeply disappointed that my Democrat colleagues have ignored the basic reality that every time Washington pushes an unfunded mandate onto the backs of our private sector businesses, we drive up their operating costs and impede their ability to grow, create jobs, and compete in the increasingly global economy.  These mandates have a particularly destructive impact on our nation’s small businesses, which spend 45 percent more per employee than large businesses in compliance costs to meet these unfunded mandates.

Whenever we consider passing the costs of a federal mandate onto our small businesses, we must also consider opportunities to relieve them of other regulatory burdens.  By requiring that any legislation that places large mandates on the private sector receive 60 votes in the Senate, we could have ensured that this legislation would represent a reasonable, balanced package.

Under the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) of 1995, legislation imposing unfunded mandates above $131 million on state and local governments requires 60 votes to pass; my amendment would establish that same threshold for mandates on the private sector.  UMRA already requires the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to estimate the cost of mandates that Congress imposes on the private sector.