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Ergonomics: Who's Counting? Asks Small Business

The Small Business Legislative Council is carefully watching the Senate, as today marks the start of the "ergonomics rule rejection clock."

Today marks the 15th session for the United States Senate. Most people probably don''t even know that fact but this year, things are different, according to the Small Business Legislative Council (SBLC).

"The 15th session day starts the ergonomics rule rejection clock in the Senate," said John Statagaj, president of SBLC, an independent coalition of trade an professional associations focused on small business.

"Under the little known Congressional Review Act, the Senate has 60 session days to disapprove the ergonomics rule under special anti-filibuster rules from the date of transmittal of the rule to Congress and the publication of the rule," explained Statagaj. "Because the ergonomics rule was published at the end of the last Congress, special rules arbitrarily start the clock with the 15th day of the new Senate."

Small business has been among the many employer groups strongly opposed to the ergonomics rule, who have claimed the rule is "ambiguous and without sense."

Powers granted by the Congressional Review Act of 1996 are getting special attention from the regulation''s critics.

Under the law, a majority vote in both houses is all that''s need to scuttle an executive-branch regulation.

Moreover, Senate filibusters against anti-regulatory effort are barred. Congress can kill regulations only in their entirety, not in piecemeal fashion.

Congress have never used those the Congressional Review Act powers before.

"In the Senate, filibuster rules do not apply if the Senate acts within the 60 session day time period that is about to begin," said Statagaj. "We certainly hope the Senate will not wait until the 59th day to send this rule back to the drawing board."

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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