March 6, 2008

Senate Passes Important Consumer Protections

Statement of David Arkush, Director, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch Division

Today, the Senate passed the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Reform Act, a bill that will bring much-needed improvements to an agency that has too long been ignored and under-resourced. We congratulate the Senate for taking meaningful steps toward improving the safety of American consumers. In particular, we appreciate the determined efforts of Sens. Mark Pryor, Ted Stevens, Daniel Inouye and Richard Durbin. Despite intense opposition from industry and the White House, they produced a good bill for American consumers.

The CPSC needs more resources and authority, and a greater sense of urgency when it comes to hazards that can injure and kill, especially in light of the record 473 product recalls in 2007. In this regard, the Senate bill is certainly a major step in the right direction. The bill increases the CPSC’s funding, creates a public database of information on hazardous products, gives state attorneys general more authority to protect their residents from unsafe products, sets lower acceptable lead levels for children’s products, improves safety standards and testing for toys, and offers important whistleblower protection to employees who report unsafe products and legal violations.

But there’s still more to be done. As the Senate and House meet in conference to work out differences in their bills, we urge them to keep the health and safety of American consumers and children at the forefront of discussions and to craft the strongest bill possible. We look forward to working with members of both the House and Senate to make further improvements to consumer product safety law.