House Democrats on Tuesday caught an error in a GOP deregulation bill that is aimed at only allowing new regulations to be issued once the unemployment rate falls to 6 percent, but unwittingly refers to the employment rate.

House Republicans are expected to pass H.R. 4078, the Red Tape Reduction and Small Business Job Creation Act, on Thursday. The first part of the bill is aimed at only allowing new regulations once the unemployment rate falls to 6 percent or lower.

But as written, the bill says the reverse — that new rules could only be issued once the employment rate is 6 percent or lower, or in other words, when the unemployment rate is 94 percent or higher.


"The Secretary of Labor shall submit a report to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget when the Secretary determines that the Bureau of Labor Statistics average of monthly employment rates for any quarter beginning after the date of the enactment of this Act is equal to or less than 6.0 percent," the bill reads, in a section setting out conditions for new regulations.

The House is expected to debate the bill Wednesday and pass it by Thursday, in theory giving the GOP time to fix the error. House Republicans were expected to release a statement late Tuesday explaining how to get around the problem.

"As introduced and reported in the House, the bill correctly references 'unemployment,' not 'employment' — all we've got is a minor clerical error in the committee print and it is our desire to fix it by unanimous consent," said Doug Andres, a GOP staffer on the House Rules Committee. "We hope the Democrats will cooperate."

Another aide said Republicans are aware of the problem and are working with Democrats to fix it. If Democrats or anyone objected to a unanimous consent request to fix the language, it could also be sent back to the Rules Committee to be fixed.

The error appeared to be pointed out first in an email from the office of Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), which also rejected Republican arguments that limiting federal regulations would help create jobs in the United States.

— Erik Wasson contributed.

— This story was updated at 7:30 p.m.