GOP Governors Seek Relief From Federal Rules

Posted January 14, 2011 at 3:13pm

BALTIMORE — GOP governors Friday urged House Republicans to rein in the Obama administration’s regulatory power, arguing that everything from environmental controls to education and health care should be left to the states.

Govs. Haley Barbour of Mississippi, Rick Perry of Texas and Bob McDonnell of Virginia met with House Republicans Friday as part of the lawmakers’ annual three-day retreat. According to the governors, their message to the Republican colleagues was a simple one: find ways to control the Obama administration.

Perry complained that the “current administration runs roughshod over our affairs” and insisted that block grants to states and fewer federal regulations are the best ways to address the nation’s problems.

“Whether we’re talking about health care, whether we’re talking about education, whether we’re talking about environmental regulation or economic development, for that matter, greater autonomy for the states would not only result in greater effectiveness but would also save Washington from having to fund and oversee” implementation of laws, Perry said.

“This administration wants to control your states, control the jobs, control the agencies,” Perry complained.

Barbour said that while Senate Democrats and the White House may still be able to stand in the way of wholesale changes to the nation’s regulatory system, Republicans in the House can still take steps to try and limit its impact.

“We’re not running the government. We’re not going to be able to. But [House Republicans] can try and stop bad things,” Barbour said.

Barbour, who as chairman of the Republican National Committee in 1995 was involved in the GOP’s unsuccessful effort to defeat President Bill Clinton in his re-election bid, acknowledged that Republican outreach to governors this year is similar to those efforts. “It is reminiscent of 1995,” Barbour said.

But he dismissed the notion that Obama would, like Clinton, try to embrace Republicans’ small-government agenda in the runup to the election. 

“I don’t think that will happen,” Barbour said.