Drywall Safety Act of 2012

Floor Speech

By:  Mary Bono Mack
Date: Sept. 19, 2012
Location: Washington, DC


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

Mr. Speaker, as chairman of the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade, which has jurisdiction over the Consumer Product Safety Commission, I rise today in strong support of H.R. 4212, an important bipartisan bill to help the Federal Government fight the problem of defective and potentially hazardous Chinese drywall.

I would like to thank my colleague, Mr. Rigell of Virginia, for all of his hard and thoughtful work on this important legislation.

Today, if something smells rotten in your home or in your business, Chinese drywall may be to blame. Scientific laboratory tests have identified emissions from some of this drywall to include sulfurous gases such as hydrogen sulfide, which leaves a stench muck like rotten eggs.

It's time to address this widespread problem, which exploded across our landscape after Hurricane Katrina. By some estimates, enough suspect Chinese drywall has entered the U.S. since 2006 to build more than 60,000 American homes, many of which are located in the southeastern U.S.

But here's the problem. The emissions from contaminated drywall worsen as the temperature and the humidity rise, causing copper surfaces, including pipes, wiring, and air conditioning coils to become blackened and corroded. As a result, many people have complained about respiratory problems such as chronic coughing, asthma attacks, and difficulty in breathing, and that's in addition to headaches and sinus issues.

Most of the companies which made this bad drywall are owned, at least in part, by the Chinese Government, and they have steadfastly refused to appear in American courts or to cooperate with the Federal Government's ongoing safety investigation.

In some cases, U.S. builders, to their credit, have stepped up on their own to remediate the problem, but thousands of others have had to sue or simply eat the costs of replacing this drywall. H.R. 4212 is one way to help prevent this problem from happening again in the future.

But, at the same time, we're also trying to help people who've already been impacted. This bill directs the Secretary of Commerce to work with the Chinese Government in coming up with a fair solution to settle outstanding claims.

In addition, H.R. 4212 requires labeling of all drywall with the name of the manufacturer and the date of its manufacture. In the past, the lack of this critically important information has been a real problem because homeowners couldn't tell, in many cases, which company manufactured that bad drywall.

And finally, this legislation requires the Consumer Product Safety Commission to promulgate an important new standard to limit the sulfur content of drywall, unless industry comes up with an acceptable voluntary standard first.

Mr. Speaker, science has spoken. This isn't a case of we think we have a problem. Today, we know we have a problem. China chooses to ignore it, but America chooses to do something about it.

I strongly urge the adoption of this bill, and I reserve the balance of my time.


Mrs. BONO MACK. As I have no further requests for time, in closing I just want to make one very important point here--and I think it's a great point to make right now--which is that Republicans and Democrats are united on this very important health and safety issue. ``Made in China'' is stamped on everything from kids' toys to consumer electronics, so let's just make sure it is stamped on our drywall, too. Let's also make sure that this is a safe product, that it's environmentally friendly, and that someone stands behind it.

I applaud Mr. Rigell for his hard work, and I thank Mr. Deutch very much for bringing it to our attention and for working with our committee. I, too, thank the staffs of the subcommittee and the full committee for all of their hard work over these past many days.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I am going to ask that my colleagues support H.R. 4212, and I yield back the balance of my time.


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