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Consumer Product Safety Bill Is Grossly Inadequate, Won’t Protect Children

Dec. 18, 2007

Consumer Product Safety Bill Is Grossly Inadequate, Won’t Protect Children

Statement of Joan Claybrook, President of Public Citizen

Parents and consumers are facing another holiday crisis regarding the safety of children’s toys and other consumer products. Judging from what lawmakers did today, it might not be the last.

The House of Representatives’ Energy and Commerce Committee today voted out a bill reauthorizing the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in response to the well-publicized threats from toxic toys. The Senate passed a strong bill out of committee earlier this fall. But the House measure, which now heads to the House floor for a vote, is not glad tidings for consumers. 
The bill is inadequate to protect American families. Among many other flaws, the bill:

• Does not require public safety data on dangerous products to be made public – an amendment for a robust consumer information system offered by Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) was rejected in committee today;
• Fails to increase civil penalties sufficiently for “knowing” violations of safety laws;
• Falls dramatically short of providing the budget and staff that the CPSC needs;
• Fails to sufficiently streamline the CPSC’s current, ineffective recall procedures;
• Does not enable the CPSC to block unsafe imported products at the border before they harm consumers;
• Does not mandate adequate pre-market testing of children’s toys and other consumer products; and
• As Rep. Henry Waxman (D.-Calif.) pointed out, creates a new, unprecedented criminal immunity for corporations that merely comply with the law by reporting hazardous substances in products.

The full House, under the leadership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, can do far better to protect America’s children. We urge House lawmakers to undertake full and careful consideration of the many ways this bill can be improved.