Senate passes consumer bill

The Senate took a major step today in shoring up the nation’s lagging consumer protection system when it passed the Consumer Product Safety Commission Reform Act. Stephen Labaton writes about it in the New York Times, pointing out that “the Congressional action marks the first major consumer product legislation in 18 years and comes as federal regulators struggle to oversee the explosive growth of foreign goods, much of which is imported from countries with few significant safety standards.”

Now, we’ll see what happens as the Senate and House go to conference to hash out the differences in their bills. The White House has already issued a list of things it objects to in the Senate bill. According to the NYT:

It criticized one provision that would give an enforcement role to state prosecutors and another that would extend whistle-blower protections to company employees who disclose safety violations. The administration also opposed provisions that would create a public data base of consumer safety complaints, and that would require that the laboratories that test certain children’s products for safety be independent and privately owned.

“These provisions threaten to burden American consumers and industry in unproductive ways, and may actually harm a well-functioning product safety system,” the administration statement said. The statement did not threaten a veto.