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Public Statements

Drywall Safety Act of 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. DEUTCH. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I rise in strong support of this amended form of H.R. 4212, the Contaminated Drywall Safety Act of 2012.

My friend Mr. Rigell is correct: when we have an opportunity to do something for the families in America who are really suffering and when we can do it in a commonsense and bipartisan way, we have every responsibility to take that action. That's what this bill is about, and that's what this evening is about.

In the wake of the 2005 and 2006 hurricane seasons, a domestic shortage of drywall developed in our country, drywall for rebuilding homes and businesses. To make up for this shortage, builders began importing several million tons of drywall from China; but it was not until 2009 that reports started to surface that, unbeknownst to the builders or to the consumers, much of the drywall coming from China emitted high levels of corrosive sulfur.

Currently, thousands of homeowners in 42 States, as well as in the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and American Samoa, have been enduring an emergency situation in which contaminated drywall from China has been causing ever worsening destruction and damage to their homes. It has also caused serious health problems for the families living in those homes. Like my friend from Virginia, in having the opportunity to visit with families and listen to them share their stories about the illnesses that come one after another after another to their children, ultimately forcing them to move from their homes, one can't be helped but be moved to action.

The problematic drywall corrodes copper piping and wiring in homes, which causes the failure of air-conditioning systems, telecommunications wiring, wiring for lighting and other household appliances. Such corrosion poses both potential fire and safety hazards in homes, and it causes undue financial hardship for homeowners who are constantly forced to repair or replace essential appliances.

The damage to the housing structures and the detrimental health impact on family members caused by contaminated Chinese drywall renders many of these homes simply uninhabitable. Such a situation forces some families to find alternate housing while also having to maintain the mortgages on their homes that are uninhabitable. In these difficult economic times, tremendous strain is being placed on limited family finances to constantly replace or make repairs to essential home appliances or to pay for other housing options while maintaining that mortgage on an uninhabitable home with Chinese drywall. These families have been and are in desperate need of assistance.

This bill seeks to provide assistance to homeowners who have contaminated drywall in their homes and to prevent contaminated drywall from entering the country in the future.

Our bill will assist homeowners who are victims of this problematic Chinese drywall by urging the Secretary of Commerce to insist that the Chinese Government facilitate a meeting between the companies that manufacture the contaminated drywall and the representatives of the U.S. Government to help remedy homeowners who have the contaminated drywall in their homes. In addition, the bill urges the Secretary of Commerce to insist that the Chinese Government direct the companies that manufactured this contaminated drywall and exported it to this country to submit to the jurisdiction of the United States Federal courts and to comply with any decisions issued by those courts on behalf of the homeowners with this contaminated drywall.

The bill will ensure that similar problematic drywall is not imported into this country in the future.

It would require that each sheet of drywall that is imported for use in the U.S. be labeled with the name of the manufacturer and the month and year of manufacture. In addition, the bill requires that the Consumer Product Safety Commission ensure that future drywall manufactured or imported for use in the U.S. contain sulfur limits that do not cause elevated rates of corrosion in the home. The bill also requires the CPSC to revise their remediation guidance for homes with contaminated drywall to include a provision that contaminated drywall removed from homes should not be used in the production of new drywall.

This bill is a product of bipartisan negotiations, and it demonstrates how this House works best when both sides work together to get something done for the American people.

I really do want to express my sincere appreciation to my cochair of the Congressional Contaminated Drywall Caucus, Congressman Rigell, for all of his hard work and leadership on this issue.

I also want to thank the Energy and Commerce Committee, particularly Chairman Upton and Chairwoman Bono Mack, for their help as well as the help of Ranking Member Waxman and of the ranking member on the subcommittee, Congressman Butterfield.

I would also like to thank Congresswoman and Chair Ileana Ros-Lehtinen from the Foreign Affairs Committee for all of her hard work, together with that of Ranking Member Berman, in the commitment to finding a compromise to permit this bill to move forward.

Finally, I would like to recognize my friend Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart for his tireless work on this issue from the time the first reports of contaminated drywall surfaced and for providing much-needed assistance to those victims of contaminated Chinese drywall.

For all of these reasons and for all of the people who have been affected, I urge my colleagues this evening to support the passage of H.R. 4212.

I yield back the balance of my time.


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