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Senate’s Consumer Protection Bill an Improvement But Still Inadequate to Address Key Safety Concerns

Feb. 15, 2008 

Senate’s Consumer Protection Bill an Improvement  But Still Inadequate to Address Key Safety Concerns

Statement of Joan Claybrook, President, Public Citizen

Today, Senate Commerce Committee Republicans and Democrats reached an agreement on a bill that would reauthorize the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). While the bill represents a step forward, it still falls far short of giving the CPSC the authority it needs to carry out its important health and safety responsibilities.

In important areas, industry attacked the Senate Commerce Committee’s reported bill in order to undercut the CPSC’s authority. The result is a proposal that is stronger in many respects than what the House passed in December but still far less than what the CPSC needs, particularly when compared to the powers of other federal agencies with substantial health and safety regulatory duties.

One specific area where the bill falls short is the maximum fine of $10 million for violating the act, or $20 million for a violation with “aggravated” circumstances. This is a fraction of the $100 million maximum called for in the Senate committee version of the bill. Setting the fine at such a small amount will allow manufacturers, many of which rake in proceeds in the billions of dollars a year, to continue to operate with virtual impunity.

After a year in which the CPSC oversaw nearly 500 product recalls, with 61 of those involving dangerous children’s products, we urge the Senate to further improve this legislation. The lives and health of our families are at stake.

Read our report about the CPSC.