Thursday June 09, 2011 | 02:45 PM


Sen. Olympia Snowe today won a long-running battle to get a vote on her regulatory reform bill, but the Maine Republican’s bill failed to move forward.
Last month, Republicans refused to allow a small business bill to move to a final vote in the Senate, and one of the major reasons for the floor fight was the refusal of Senate Democrats to allow a vote on Snowe’s bill, offered as an amendment to the small business bill.
Snowe, the top GOP member of the Senate small business committee says overly burdensome array of federal regulations harm many small businesses and get in the way of job creation. She seeks, among other things, to require federal agencies to more regularly review regulations for their impact on small businesses.
She also has said she has attempted to make changes to her bill to address criticism that it would too easily result in regulations simply being wiped out if federal agencies failed to meet review requirements.
Snowe finally won an agreement from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to allow a vote on her bill this afternoon, this time as amendment.
“With this legislation and growing support for comprehensive regulatory reform among small businesses around the nation, I urge my colleagues to take a serious look at the impact burdensome regulations are having on the ability of employers to add to their payrolls,” Snowe said in a statement ahead of the vote.  “Achieving our shared goals of protecting the environment, consumers, or worker safety and mitigating inefficient or ineffective regulations starts with a hard look at the effectiveness of current rules and the consideration of the economic impact future regulations will make.”
However, the amendment failed 53-46. It needed 60 votes to pass. Among those voting for Snowe's bill was Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.
Democrats have said there are a number of regulatory reform proposals pending in Congress, and that they should be examined as part of the committee hearing process. President Obama, too, has ordered a review of federal regulations, but Snowe charges the administration’s look at whether regulations are too burdensome does not go far enough.

Snowe's bill is co-authored by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Ok.

After the Senate rejected the measure, Scott Slesinger of the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental advocacy group based in Washington, said the NRDC was “pleased that the Senate rejected attempts to weaken the government’s ability to protect us from health and environmental threats we can’t combat ourselves – such as contaminated water, tainted food and airborne toxins.”

(Updated as of 8:30 p.m.: The National Federal of Independent Business said it was disappointed Snowe’s legislation did not advance. “We have heard bi-partisan support for the type of common-sense regulatory reform found in this amendment, so it’s very disappointing to see it fail,” said Susan Eckerly of the NFIB in a statement. “Small businesses are still struggling to create jobs, and they need regulatory relief now.”

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Kevin Miller is Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. He has worked as a journalist in Maine for 6 ½ years, covering the environment, politics and the State House. Before arriving in Maine, he wrote about politics, government and education for newspapers in Virginia and Maryland.
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