(Cliff Owen/AP)

A small group of lawmakers from both parties and both chambers has drafted a measure that they say would streamline and bring transparency to the regulatory process.

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) introduced the measure, the Regulatory Accountability Act of 2011, at a Capitol news conference Thursday morning.

Portman said the bill represented “the first time, really, since 1945 that there has been a major overhaul of the Administrative Procedures Act codifying, making permanent and enforceable some of these various executive orders and other orders that have come from administrations over the years.”

“This will enable us to create better rules at lower cost and thereby help create jobs and economic growth in an economy that desperately needs it,” he added.

House Republicans have made the rolling back of federal regulations a centerpiece of their agenda this fall. But the effort by Portman, Pryor, Peterson and Smith represents the first major bipartisan effort at regulatory reform this Congress.

The quartet of lawmakers said Thursday that their measure would affect the federal rulemaking process going forward and would not apply to rules that have already gone into effect. That stands in contrast to the current House-led efforts, which largely have been focused on doing away with existing environmental, labor and other regulations.

Pryor on Thursday described the bipartisan effort as an “issue-neutral” one that is focused on overall costs and benefits rather than on one particular area of legislation.

“One of the things that I think is important to know about this legislation is that we’re not EPA bashing. ... It is a piece of legislation that doesn’t take sides,” he said. “We’re not setting the outcomes in the legislation, but we’re changing the process so hopefully we will get better outcomes.”

The Business Roundtable, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and more than 50 other business organizations sent a letter to the measure’s four co-sponsors Thursday afternoon expressing their support for the bill.

“The Regulatory Accountability Act of 2011 builds on established principles of fair regulatory process and review that have been embodied in bipartisan executive orders dating to at least the Clinton administration and will make the regulatory process more transparent, agencies more accountable, and regulations more cost effective,” the groups wrote. “The Act will not affect any regulations that are already in effect. We welcome the introduction of this bill and enthusiastically support it.”

Smith said that his committee plans to hold a hearing on the measure on Oct. 25.