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Public Statements

Drywall Safety Act of 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. RIGELL. I thank the gentlelady for yielding, and I thank my colleagues for being here tonight to support a really great and much-needed piece of legislation.

I do rise in strong support of the Drywall Safety Act of 2012. This truly is a bill about protecting the American family, both their physical health and their financial health.

Mr. Speaker, this is about doing what is right to address a terrible injustice that has fallen upon so many families, many of whom live in the Second Congressional District of Virginia, and thousands across our country. These are families that are reeling financially, and also their health has been damaged because of drywall that was manufactured in a defective manner in China and then shipped to the United States and installed in homes across our great land.

They're our friends and neighbors, hardworking folks who saved, bought homes, and were living the American Dream, or really, so they thought. And their dream, Mr. Speaker, so often has turned into a true nightmare. Their children have developed just bloody noses and respiratory ailments.

Mr. Speaker, I've met with these families. It's really heartbreaking. They're having to pay for their current home, which is uninhabitable, and then go out and rent or maybe attempt to buy another home. It's a type of financial stress that so many of the families have been unable to adjust to. And many of them, so many of whom I've met with, have ended up having to file financial bankruptcy.

So I appreciate the leadership of the chairwoman this evening and my friend and colleague, Representative Deutch, a cochairman with me on the Contaminated Drywall Caucus. We've advanced, we believe, a sound piece of legislation, bipartisan, that really addresses this problem. It doesn't, and we don't portend that it fixes everything, but it is a major and significant step forward.

These families, the only thing they have left is, I think, hope that we'll do the right thing here tonight. It's been over 4 years that these families have been hurting. You know, they looked first to the lender, to the importers of the drywall, to the insurers. They didn't find any real relief there.

Some of the banks, to their credit, have given some consideration, but it's not enough. We've got to act tonight in this House, and I trust that we will.

The bill takes China to task directly for failing to require their state-owned manufacturers to compensate the victims of their contaminated products. It expresses the undivided sense of Congress that the Government of China needs to make right and ensure that those who have lost so much are made whole.

As the chairwoman pointed out, clear labeling requirements are incorporated into the legislation; and by limiting the amount of elemental sulfur allowed in the drywall, it will ensure that drywall that is defective is not imported into this country. As a lighter, smarter regulation advocate, I am delighted that we have gone the route of voluntary standards. If we can go that direction, that's our preferred way above the regulatory approach. So we set up the industry, itself, to advance by setting industry standards that will apply as well to foreign manufactured drywall products, and we will protect our homeowners that way.

In closing, I just want to express again my sincere appreciation to all of those who have made it possible for us to bring the bill to the floor, and I trust and hope that we will pass it by unanimous consent tonight.

I particularly want to thank my friend and colleague from Florida, Representative Deutch, for his leadership in serving as the cochairman of our caucus.

You've just been terrific, and your staff has been terrific.

I also want to thank the majority and minority members and the staffs on the Energy and Commerce Committee who worked so hard to navigate a lot of challenges to get this bill to the floor.

Mr. Speaker, this is commonsense legislation. It is much needed. I know these families and they are hurting. I trust and encourage my colleagues to do the right thing tonight--to advance this bill and to support it.


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