House Subcommittee Approves Consumer Protection Reform Bill

The Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection approved its comprehensive consumer protection and Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reform bill by voice vote yesterday in an open markup session, after adoption of a bipartisan amendment that strengthened the bill. The bill is now reported to the full Committee for consideration.

H.R. 4040, the Consumer Product Safety Modernization Act of 2007, was introduced earlier this month establishing an outline for improving and reforming the nation's consumer product safety system with provisions that include increased funds and staffing for CPSC, a nationwide ban on products containing lead beyond specified minute amounts, third-party testing and certification for children's products, and mandatory tracking labels for children's products. Last week, the subcommittee held a hearing to gather input from stakeholders on the proposed legislation, including CPSC Commissioners, industry representatives, consumer safety advocates, and health care professionals.

"This is a bipartisan piece of legislation that authorizes desperately needed resources to the Commission and dramatically reforms the Consumer Product Safety Act, as well as the Federal Hazardous Substances Act, both of which are enforced by the CPSC," said Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL), one of the bill's sponsors. "After decades of neglect, this bill restores the CPSC to its rightful place of prominence and gives it the necessary tools to grapple with the global marketplace and protect American consumers, particularly children, from dangerous and defective products. This bill, which we plan to continue to improve as it moves through the legislative process, fulfills that pledge I made six months ago."

The legislation is the product of several months of research and investigations conducted by the committee into the recent widespread findings of lead in children’s products imported from China, as well as the nation’s system for recalling defective or tainted products. In August 2007, the Committee sent letters to 19 retailers and importers requesting information on their findings of lead. On September 19 and 20, the Committee held a hearing on lead in children’s products and the resulting recalls.

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