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]
Write Your Representative
PREVIOUSLY: How To Write To Congress

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.