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Public Statements

Providing Greater Authority and Discretion to Consumer Product Safety Commission

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mrs. BONO MACK. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I rise today in support of H.R. 2715, a bill that modifies the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, also called CPSIA, and provides relief to address a number of unintended consequences that arose after CPSIA became law.

This bill is a win-win. It is good for American consumers and American businesses as well. It is also a bipartisan bill. And I want to thank Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Upton, as well as Ranking Member Waxman and my counterpart, Mr. Butterfield, for all of their hard work in getting this important bill to the floor today.

We passed CPSIA almost unanimously in 2008, and many of its features have advanced the cause of children's safety. But there also have been unintended consequences for many businesses, small and large alike. For 3 years now, we have heard the pleas of these businesses, asking for relief from the CPSIA mandates. We have also heard from the CPSC that it lacks the authority and flexibility to grant relief where needed.

On August 14, the last deadline looms, the final drop-down to the 0.01 percent lead content limit. Without swift action, we face empty store shelves that have been cleared of perfectly safe products because of what I believe was simply a drafting oversight. The bill makes the August 14 limit prospective in nature, permitting retailers to sell their existing inventory so long as it was made prior to August 14 and is compliant with the current lead limit of 0.03 percent, which was specifically approved by Congress for the last 2 years.

In a true spirit of bipartisanship, Ranking Members Waxman and Butterfield agreed to act swiftly to address this situation. While we don't necessarily agree on the best way to address all of the unintended consequences of CPSIA, we move the bill in response to the enormous threat facing stakeholders in the children's product industry in just less than 2 weeks.

In addition to addressing the immediate deadline, this bill goes a little farther to address the pain so many of our constituents are facing. ATVs, bikes, books, things that were never intended to be covered by the law but were ensnared by its wide reach nonetheless, will no longer face an uncertain future and are exempted from testing requirements.

Used children's products were also banned for sale as a result of the 2008 law. Thrift stores and charity retail outlets such as Goodwill Industries and even the local church bazaars were forced to toss anything made for a child under the age of 12 because it is impossible to tell whether an item was made in compliance with the law without its original packing or a dated sales receipt. As a result, the law essentially made all used children's products contraband. This wasteful result removed perfectly safe products from the reach of individuals who rely on the value and savings such stores provide in order to provide decent clothing for their children.

Manufacturers of other products will also see some relief from the most costly mandate of the CPSIA--third-party testing and the continuing compliance testing. This bill directs CPSC to seek comments within 60 days on how the current third-party testing regime can be altered to reduce costs.

Small batch manufacturers, who were among the hardest hit by CPSIA, will also find some relief in this bill. These manufacturers are generally stay-at-home moms with an entrepreneurial spirit or mom-and-pop retail outlets that handpick unique toys and other items for sale in their community. Almost universally, these small businesses got into business because they wanted to ensure their own children had safe toys. Almost universally, these small businesses have either closed shop or are on the verge of closing shop because of the onerous requirements of the CPSIA and the costs imposed.

The bill directs the Consumer Product Safety Commission to address the special situation of these businesses by finding alternative, more affordable testing methods or by exempting these businesses from testing altogether if no such alternative exists.

The bill creates a functional purpose exception process that we hope will give the CPSC more flexibility to exempt products from lead limits where there is no health risk. The exception process created in the original CPSIA has failed to permit a single exception for any children's product from the statutory lead limits established in the CPSIA, even in cases where the CPSC determined that such products pose no risk to children.

We have a narrow window of opportunity to address those mandates that threaten the survival of scores of businesses and the livelihoods of the individuals and families those businesses support. And I would like to thank the ranking member of the subcommittee, Mr. Butterfield, as well as the ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Mr. Waxman, as well as their staffs for working throughout the weekend to find a compromise that we both can support.

I urge my colleagues to support this bill, and I reserve the balance of my time.

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