Dec. 13, 2007
House Committee Should Put Children First, Pass Tougher Toy Regulations
Statement of Joan Claybrook, President of Public Citizen
The House Energy and Commerce Committee today failed parents and children all over America. Given the chance to greatly improve the Consumer Product Safety Modernization Act, committee members bowed to pressure from industry lobbyists. The committee’s draft of the bill (H.R. 4040) falls woefully short in at least eight key areas. The bill:
Does not provide the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) with a way to give consumers an “early warning” about dangerous toys and other consumer products;
- Is far too limited in pre-market testing requirements and largely address toys already subject to existing federal rules;
- Lacks an efficient, speedy method of ordering mandatory recalls;
- Fails to give the CPSC authority to stop dangerous products at ports of entry without a lengthy hearing; it lacks enforcement powers over repeat offenders;
- Fails to set lead levels low enough to protect children from permanent brain damage;
- Provides inadequate civil and criminal penalties for safety violations;
- Does not authorize enough funding to make the CPSC effective; and
- Does not protect whistleblowers who report hazardous products to the CPSC.
Committee members had their chance to make a difference. Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) offered an amendment that would have reduced the allowable level of lead in children’s products. Another amendment by Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass) would have extended federal safety jurisdiction to amusement park rides. The measures, both sensible and appropriate, failed in the face of protests from lobbyists.
How long can Congress ignore such important health and safety concerns? Given the flood dangerous, imported toys crossing our borders, the House of Representatives must improve the ability of the Consumer Product Safety Commission to protect children and other consumers. For far too many years, the agency has been mired in irrelevance and incompetence. There has never been a more critical time for Congress to make the commission matter.
We urge committee members to put our children first when they continue work next week. Parents and children deserve some good news for the holidays.