WASHINGTON -- The House Republican regulatory reform bill contains an embarrassing typo, mistaking "employment" for "unemployment."
The "Red Tape Reduction and Small Business Job Creation Act" calls for a moratorium on "significant regulatory action" as soon as the legislation is enacted.
The argument by Republicans is that government regulations burden job creation and growth and should therefore be suspended until the economy picks up.
But in a typo, the measure would require that new regulations are suspended until unemployment reaches 94 percent. From Page 3 of the legislation:
Presumably, "employment" is supposed to read "unemployment."
"The 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," said Drew Hammill, press secretary for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
Rep. Tim Griffin (R-Ark.), the original sponsor of the bill, did not return a request for comment.
The legislation is expected to hit the House floor on Wednesday, with votes on Thursday.
When asked for comment, House Rules Committee spokesman Doug Andres confirmed it was a typo and said Republicans hoped Democrats would agree to fix it.
"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. We hope the Democrats will cooperate," said Andres.
Bruce Bartlett, an economist under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, disagrees with the GOP's insistence that blocking regulation would increase job creation.
"It's just nonsense. It's just made up," Barlett said in an interview with the Associated Press, when asked about this assertion.
Former Republican congressman Sherwood Boehlert recently wrote an op-ed in The Hill criticizing the GOP legislation, writing that "it would be difficult to exaggerate the sweep and destructiveness of the House bill."
"What would be so bad about having no new regulations for several years? Well, nothing, if everything else about the world was going to stand still for that period, but that’s not likely to be the case," Boehlert said. "Might we want to try some new ways to stimulate the housing market? No new rules to run a program would be permitted. Might we want to respond to recent revelations about the way banks have misreported and manipulated interest rates? No chance. How about protecting consumers from new attempts by banks to impose exorbitant fees? No dice."
UPDATE: 7/25/12 -- House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told reporters on Wednesday that Democrats will not agree to the unanimous consent required to fix the bill without having to restart the process. Instead, Republicans will, as Roll Call explains, "likely need to take the bill back to the Rules Committee and begin the floor debate anew."
"I know Republicans read the bills," Hoyer said, mocking the GOP's typo. "My, my, my how carefully they read that bill."
Andres, on the Rules Committee, responded, "In their press release, the Democrats acknowledge that this was an error. We acknowledged the error and offered an easy way to fix the issue, but the Democrats don't seem to be interested in actually solving problems. We will act to fix this at the earliest opportunity."
He pointed out that when Democrats had a typo in the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, Republicans agreed to the unanimous consent motion needed to change the bill.
Still, in this instance, it seems unlikely Democrats are going to help along a regulatory reform bill that they oppose.
This is a developing story and has been updated.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly identified the author of the op-ed in the Hill. He is former Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, not Sherrod.