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Posted at 06:00 AM ET, 07/25/2012

House Republicans support a 94 percent unemployment rate — if you believe typos


House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Val.) and House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), in July 2011. (Joshua Roberts - Bloomberg)

This item has been updated.

House Democrats plan to block Republican efforts to quickly correct a typo in a new anti-regulation bill set for consideration this week.

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Wednesday that Democrats will not give unanimous consent to quickly correct the bill’s typo, which as incorrectly written would stop the federal government from issuing new regulations until the nation’s unemployment rate reaches 94 percent. (Earlier versions correctly implied the bill’s original intent, which was to halt the regulatory process until the unemployment reaches or drops below 6 percent.)

The House plans to vote Thursday on the GOP-sponsored measure to repeal or restrict federal regulations that Republicans believe are impeding job growth. Most of the bill’s proposals come from freshmen Republican lawmakers, including Tim Griffin (R-Ark.), who hopes to bar federal agencies from issuing any new significant regulations until the nation’s unemployment rate drops to 6 percent or lower.

That is, unless you read a version of the bill produced by the House Rules Committee that included the typo.

According to text of the typo-laden version, federal agencies would be barred from issuing new regulations until the labor secretary submits a report “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.”

Doug Andres, a spokesman for the Rules Committee, said the original version of the bill correctly uses the word “unemployment” instead of 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,” Andres said. “We hope the Democrats will cooperate.”

Clearly relishing the opportunity to highlight the Republican stumble, Drew Hammill, a spokesman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), said Republicans “have made a big typo in their latest message bill to nowhere. Looks like they should stop harping about ‘red tape’ and start looking for the white out.”

Hoyer then told reporters early Wednesday that Democrats would block efforts to quickly correct the bill.

In response, Erica Elliott, spokeswoman for House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) noted that “Unemployment in America has been above 8 percent for 41 straight months. The fact that the Democrats are making a crusade out of a typo shows their lack of commitment to serious debate about how to get this country back on track.”

The bill, formally known as the Red Tape Reduction and Small Business Job Creation Act, is one of several measures to be passed this summer by the Republican-controlled House that have virtually no chance of consideration in the Democratic-controlled Senate. Regardless, Republican lawmakers and GOP congressional candidate often mention the bills on the campaign trail as examples of their attempts to revive the economy in the face of opposition from President Obama and Senate Democrats.

In unveiling the anti-regulation bill, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said the measure is needed “because of the increased burden at all levels of government on small business.”

“We are very much on the side of the small business owner,” Cantor told reporters Tuesday. “We believe it was they who did build their businesses. In that vein, we are trying to cut the red tape, we are trying to reduce the regulatory burden so we can see the economy bounce back.

Griffin said he wants to freeze the regulatory process because “Oftentimes in the laboratory up here in Washington, a regulation may sound like a good idea or look like a good idea, but if you don’t adequately consult and consider the opinions of the folks on the ground who have to live with it, you will often miss the mark. We’re trying to take a time out for them.”

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