Senate Votes For Safer Products, Approves Consumer Product Safety Commission Overhaul

The Senate finally voted last week to send the ailing Consumer Product Safety Commission desperately needed funds, staff, and powers. The overdue reform bill passed with bipartisan support on a 79-13 vote.

Significant differences remain between the Senate and House legislation, but compromise seems assured on several key points:

  • Funding for the Commission would rise from $63 million to over $100 million.
  • The CPSC would be allowed to work without a quorum, but funding would be available for a full slate of 5 Commissioners.
  • Lead would effectively be banned from all children’s products, not just toys.
  • Toy makers would be required to use independent labs to test their products for lead.
  • Maximum fines would rise from $1.8 million to at least $10 million.

The Senate bill goes farther than companion legislation passed by the House in December. Under the Senate version, state Attorney Generals would be allowed seek injunctions for violations of federal law; whistleblower protection would be extended to private-sector employees; and, the CPSC would create a consumer database that lists death, injury and illness reports.

Thirteen Senators think the bills goes too far and that their families are plenty safe without an expanded CPSC, thank you:

Allard (R-CO)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burr (R-NC)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Corker (R-TN)
DeMint (R-SC)
Ensign (R-NV)
Enzi (R-WY)
Kyl (R-AZ)
Vitter (R-LA)
Wicker (R-MS)

Senators McCain, Clinton, and Obama were busy campaigning and did not vote on the measure.

The White House has yet to threaten a veto. Stay tuned for updates as the bill heads to conference.

Senate Votes For Safer Products [Washington Post]
Vote Summary [United States Senate]
S. 2663 – A bill to reform the Consumer Product Safety Commission to provide greater protection for children’s products, to improve the screening of noncompliant consumer products, to improve the effectiveness of consumer product recall programs, and for other purposes. [THOMAS]
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Comments

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  1. Buran says:

    Nice to know our future president doesn’t care about consumer safety.

  2. spamtasticus says:

    Personally, I dont think we need to pay more taxes so that the Federal Government can help keep us safe. I would rather have a few private sector consumer advocacy companies making a proffit from doing the testing and informing us online or in a magazine. Something like consumer reports but with some teeth. Bottom line is Washington has a useless record of consumer protection and safety so why keep paying them to do it?

  3. nequam says:

    @spamtasticus: Okay, so who would pay the private sector advocacy companies? Or, have you discovered the proverbial free lunch?

    And, how do you suggest that a private company enforce safety standards?

  4. nequam says:

    Unfortunately, the Nord woman who runs the CPSC is unlikely to take this measure as any sort of mandate. She’s deep under the covers with the industry, and has a penchant for double speak. Case in point: she recently declared that product safety is “not a trade issue,” despite her testimony before Congress in which she blamed the high volume of imports from preventing reliable safety inspection.

  5. asujosh1 says:

    @Buran: Presidents only care about voters near election time, and then they only care enough to bulls@#t you into thinking they do care.

  6. Canerican says:

    I agree with the bill, except for increasing funding. There are plenty of private NPOs that would be more than willing to watch corporations.

    Our government is getting huge.

  7. chelotoyou says:

    I live in Colorado and can vouch for the complete idiocy of Wayne Allard.

  8. Buran says:

    @asujosh1: Uh … it IS near election time and they still couldn’t be bothered to get their shit together and go vote. If I can, so can they — it’s their JOB (and not part of mine).

  9. uberbucket says:

    Obama’s anti-lead bill (S. 1306) directed the Consumer Product Safety Commission to classify certain children’s products containing lead as banned hazardous substances. He had another bill prohibiting the interstate transport of children’s products containing lead.

    Oops, looks like he cares a little.

  10. spamtasticus says:

    @nequam. We would pay. If you are interested in consumer tests and safety you would subscribe to the service or buy the magazine etc. If you re read my comment you will notice I said the word “Proffit”. As it a for proffit company. Before you say “what if they are disshonest”… We can switch advice providers if they slack or get corrupt… we cant swich if it is a government provided service. Also, to answer the sure to come “well… what is keeping them from starting such businesess now” the anser is. There are some but since we depend of our daddy the federal government, we “feel” taken care of and dont seek out (and make proffitable ie viable) a private sector alternative. Present consumerist readers nonwithstanding of course. If the cunsumerist had a large staff doing research like the do enmasse I would pay them a monthly fee gladly.

  11. Hans_Auff says:

    Wow, the Senate did something. Let’s ring the bells, let loose the fireworks. So what? The organ grinder monkey of a president will just veto it like the torture limits bill, and a dozen other measures which might and that’s pure speculation, might have acted to protect us. I love moron Nation. Easy to fool, easy to scam, easy to pick clean.

  12. baxterthepug says:

    I heard Obama had an amendment in this bill that would identify offending companies’ names and locations so the public can keep an eye on them. More transparency is a good thing.

  13. swedub says:

    @spamtasticus:

    I’m not sure where ANSI (American National Standards Institute) gets their funding but they have a “Toy Safety Coordination Initiative” which is open for public comment. It’s backed by the Toy Industry Association and ANSI.

    [www.ansi.org]

    Of course what ever they come up with will have to be enforced to be effective.

  14. Kounji says:

    @Hans_Auff: It would be a waste of congress’ time if he vetoed the bill considering they earned a two-thirds majority.

  15. timmus says:

    Tom Coburn, Oklahoma senator, is a medical doctor. Shame on him! I wonder if we need to mail him the Hippocratic Oath, just in case he might have lost it.

  16. CurbRunner says:

    It’s too bad that this bill will most likely will die on the Smirking Chimp’s desk.
    He will either kill it by not signing it, or sign it and attach a signing statement that effectively cancels it.

  17. Munkles says:

    God damned Democrats never get anything done in th — oh wait, I’m an asshole.

  18. tme2nsb says:

    Of course Tom Coburn would vote against it. What a jackass.

  19. tme2nsb says:

    @tme2nsb: Btw, I didn’t vote for him. I voted for the Brad guy when they both ran here in Oklahoma

  20. Rachacha says:

    @swedub: The ANSI/TIA Proposal calls for private sector laboratories (audited and accredited by ANSI) to test and certify products. If the products meet the appropriate safety standards, the toy would have a certification mark affixed to it (similar in concept to the UL mark that appears on most of the electrical products in your home.

    UL (and about 15 other labs throughout the world) are audited and accredited by the U.S. Government (specifically DOL/OSHA) to test and certify electrical products used in the workplace. OSHA Audits the labs, and collects fees to run the program, so cost to the government (and taxpayers) is minimal. In this case, manufacturers pay the labs for testing and certification, the labs conduct periodic audits of the manufacturing facilities, and the manufacturer gets to apply the certification mark to their product.

    Competition helps keep pricing in check, and while the certification can be expensive, when you divide the cost out over 1000′s (or millions) of products, it adds up to about $1 or less per product.

    The House bill proposed a similar certification program to the one run by DOL/OSHA that would be managed by CPSC. It is now just a wait and see whether the US Government will run the program or if industry will run the program.

  21. tcolberg says:

    @Buran: The decision of the presidential candidates to return to Washington for the vote also depends on whether the party leaders in the Senate think they need the additional votes. If only 13 senators voted against it, then the addition of the 3 senators on the campaign trail would not have made a difference.

  22. Ragman says:

    @CurbRunner: I agree with the signing statement nulling it, just so he can say he’s helping our “childrens” while giving his corp buddies a reacharound.

  23. DangerousLiberal says:

    @Canerican: Well, spending is out of control, thanks in large part to the GOP, our “president,” and the $2 trillion war. Meanwhile, I will lose a great deal of sleep tonight knowing that the increase in funding for CPSC will constitute 0.0009 percent (more or less) of the FY 2009 budget. Scary, that big government.

  24. MCGeest says:

    @spamtasticus: “I would rather have a few private sector consumer advocacy companies making a proffit from doing the testing and informing us online or in a magazine.”

    Oh that’s nice. And I would like Coca Cola to hand out free blowjobs from hot women.
    You libertarians are really something else aren’t you?
    When a politician says something as stupid as you just did what they really mean is “I won’t do shit” because that is what “the free market trumps all” policy entails otherwise known as ‘wishful thinking’ in this particular instance.
    I mean really what does it even mean? Are you yourself going to start your private FDA? If it was so profitable there’s apparently no competitors so go for it! Comments like the ones you just gave are useless because the wishful thinking policy has already been tried and we didn’t have a private FDA before the real FDA so there no reason to assume there will be one today. We call this “market failure” scary shit huh?

    Note:
    In the future please try to limit your responses to the context of the REAL WORLD rather than Libertopia.

  25. textilesdiva says:

    Hmmmm

    Burr voted against this, and I’m not quite sure why. I called up his office, told them that one of the classes in my [some world-famous program at my school] this semester was addressing import and trade issues, and that for a report I’ve been working on, I wanted to include something from his office on Burr’s reasoning for the vote.

    I’m curious to see what they say.
    (This less than a week after I get a letter from his office thanking me for my support of Burr’s support of Honaker, when I wrote in to say more or less ‘wtf were you thinking. Re-read my letter, jackasses’)