WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama urged lawmakers on Thursday to grant him the power to reform and consolidate federal agencies, sending a bill to Congress that would help him fend off election-year charges by Republicans that he favors big government.
The law would reinstate a power last wielded by President Ronald Reagan, a hero to the Republican Party, as Obama campaigns for re-election in the November 6 election.
The White House said last month it would start by using the authority, if granted, to close the Commerce Department and shift a number of export-focused agencies, including the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, into a new agency.
"We cannot allow redundant bureaucracy and unnecessary red tape to stand in the way of creating good jobs here at home," Obama said in a statement to announce that the Consolidating and Reforming Government Act of 2012 had been sent to Capitol Hill.
Republicans, campaigning to deny him a second White House term, portray the president as a tax-and-spend liberal responsible for a bloated government. But they said they were ready to work with him on this issue, if he would do their legislative proposals the same courtesy.
"We're happy to take a look at it, just as we hope the president will take a look at the nearly 30 jobs bills the House has already passed," said Brendan Buck, spokesman for House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, the top Republican in Congress.
(Reporting By Alister Bull; Editing by Peter Cooney)