In opposition to the bill, Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell said:
We’re creating a vast new bureaucracy. We’re directing the conduct of tens and thousands of new studies… A more useless, a more wasteful expenditure of federal money, I can hardly imagine.”
The news article is below.
Senate Axes Economic Impact Studies
April 30, 1993, Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City, OK)
WASHINGTON – The Senate on Thursday narrowly defeated an amendment
by Sen. Don Nickles that would have required economic impact studies
to be done on proposed federal legislation and regulations.
Nickles, R-Ponca City, said the amendment would give lawmakers
an idea of what damage a bill could do to the economy, but
opponents said it would require the creation of a “vast
bureaucracy” to conduct the studies.
The amendment was tabled by a vote of 50-48. Sen. David Boren,
D-Seminole, voted against tabling the amendment.
Nickles introduced the amendment on Wednesday, and got help from
Democratic Sen. Harry Reid, of Nevada. The two said lawmakers might
hesitate to pass new mandates on businesses or state and local
governments when they knew how much it would cost and how many jobs
were at stake.
The amendment called for the General Accounting Office to do the
studies. Legislation or regulations with an impact of less than
$ 100 million or 10,000 jobs nationwide would be exempted.
Said Nickles, “But if we are talking about serious legislation,
legislation that will cost over 10,000 jobs or cost the economy
more than $ 100 million, we should know it. Congress should know it,
the executive branch should know it. We should acknowledge it.
“And maybe it will change the way we vote or the way the
administration would carry forward … Maybe not. ”
Nickles said the amendment could be particularly helpful with
upcoming bills, such as the Clean Water Act and the Resource
Conservation Recovery Act.
The amendment was proposed to a bill that would make the
Environmental Protection Agency a cabinet-level department.
Nickles turned down an offer from Senate majority leader George
Mitchell on Wednesday to have the amendment passed by a voice vote.
Under that procedure, the amendment would be much more vulnerable
to being removed when the EPA bill went to a House-Senate
A Senate aide said Democratic leaders were worried that the
amendment would force economic impact studies on President
Clinton’s tax proposals and that the results could hurt passage.
Senate president pro tempore Robert Byrd, D-W. Va., the head of
the appropriations committee, said the amendment would delay action
on all spending bills and keep senators from meeting deadlines.
Nickles modified his proposal on Thursday, but failed to satisfy
Mitchell blasted the proposal with both barrels on Thursday,
saying it was overtly political and would waste money on something
that was already being done. He said the Congressional Budget
Office does economic impact studies.
“We’re creating a vast new bureaucracy,” said Mitchell, D-Maine.
“We’re directing the conduct of tens and thousands of new studies.
“You know who’s going to benefit from this? The colleges and
universities that give out degrees in graduate economics. Why, if
there’s a graduate school of economics in Oklahoma, this is the
best bill that could be introduced in their behalf.
“A more useless, a more wasteful expenditure of federal money, I
can hardly imagine.
“I know a lot of our colleagues are going to vote for this
because it has a superficial political appeal. But everybody here
who votes for this amendment ought to go back home and tell their
constituents honestly that (they) just voted to add at least 200
more federal bureaucrats to conduct at least several thousand more
studies, many of which are already being performed by another
agency. ” But Nickles said the amendment shouldn’t lead to thousands of
more studies since it had a threshold of 10,000 jobs and $ 100
“We’re talking about I hope not too many studies,” he said. “I
hope we don’t have that many pieces of legislation or that many
regulations that are going to put 10,000 people out of work. And
before we do it, we ought to know it. And that’s the whole purpose
of the amendment. ”
Sen. John Glenn, D-Ohio, said he couldn’t see how any bills
would be exempted, since some kind of study would be required to
determine whether a bill or regulation would meet the 10,000 job or
$ 100 million threshold.
Glenn said, “The concern that this bill tries to address, the
impact on businesses and state and local government – I share that
concern. But this type of meat-ax approach is the wrong way to go.
It’s poor policy. “