CPSC Chairman Nord Won't Go Quietly

Acting Consumer Product Safety Commission Chairman Nancy Nord isn't bowing meekly to demands from some congressional Democrats that she step down. The demands followed Nord's opposition to reform legislation that would raise penalties for distributing dangerous product and give CPSC more money to enforce, with Nord characterized as having said her agency doesn't need such help. Her Oct. 31 letter in response tries to turn the tables.

Nord writes that she had "respectfully pointed out what I think are several unwise proposals in a bill to reauthorize and expand the mission of the CPSC. However, despite media reports to the contrary, nowhere in the letter (or anywhere else) did I assert that the CPSC does not need additional resources. In fact, quite to the contrary, the main message of the letter is that if CPSC resources are diverted to new missions and mandates, we will need a dramatic upsurge in our personnel and funding, far beyond what either the House or Senate are proposing for our pending budget. Nor have I ever asserted that the agency does not need new legal authority. Again, the opposite is true. In July I submitted to Congress a legislative package seeking no fewer than 40 new statutory enforcement tools and other changes to enhance our ability to protect the public from unsafe products. To date, the Committee has only seen fit to adopt a few of those proposals.

"I am very troubled by the prospect that any time a federal agency official is critical of legislation pending before Congress, congressional leaders may seek to have that official silenced or even dismissed. At the request of the committee, and as follow-up to a meeting I had with committee staff, I provided what I and the agency's senior staff believed were honest, constructive and apolitical comments and suggestions on a bill that could have a dramatic effect on our agency and our ability to carry out our core mission.

"I do not intend to resign because I care passionately about the mission of this agency. However, I am saddened and troubled by the tactics being used in an attempt to silence debate on important policy issues."

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