The incoming Republican chairman of the House oversight committee is seeking counsel from business groups about what federal regulations Congress should relax.

Rep. Darrell Issa of California has sent letters to 150 companies, trade organizations and research groups asking them what rules they believe are stifling innovation and job growth, the New York Times reported.

As the head of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Issa will wield considerable influence over the nature and application of federal regulations over industry activity.

Politico reported that Issa reached out to, among others, the oil industry, drug manufacturers, health care providers and telecommunications companies.

"A lot of people have felt shut out of the process the last few years, and they have welcomed the opportunity to give input," Issa spokesman Kurt Bardella told the Times.

The move was derided by Democrats, who characterized Issa and Republicans as pawns of special interests.

It "[l]eav[es] no doubt who is in charge of the Republican agenda," the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said in a statement. "This is even more evidence that House Republicans are in the business of protecting corporate special interests instead of creating middle income jobs."

Incoming House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) defended Issa, telling reporters Tuesday that the letter was part of a larger Republican agenda to help businesses grow and "stop the job-killing regulations."

The move clarifies key divisions in governing philosophies between Republicans and Democrats --  the former believe fewer regulations boost business and economic growth while the latter value the necessity of rules to protect consumers and in some cases the environment.

Events of recent years, such as the financial meltdown of 2008 and last year's Gulf oil spill, have raised important questions about the necessity of regulations to ensure accountability and good practices in the business community.