CPSIA: getting Washington’s attention

by Walter Olson on March 14, 2009

kidsdancearoundtree

Given that nearly every member of Congress voted for CPSIA last year, it’s not surprising that that body of lawmakers was slow to respond to reports of the law’s catastrophic consequences. It’s beginning to happen now, though. Republicans have been in the lead, the latest sign being a strong letter from ranking House Commerce minority members Reps. George Radanovich (R-Calif.) and Joe Barton (R-Calif.) asking for a hearing. The motorcycle/powersports issue has also kindled widespread interest from Hill members (example: Rep. Michael Simpson, R-Idaho).

On March 4 there was a welcome break in the ice on the Democratic side as well. Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) sent a letter to the commissioners of the CPSC that, although cautiously worded, acknowledges many of the reports of calamitous consequences from around the country, something that his colleagues Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) have been unwilling to do (when not dismissing those reports as based on misinformed or uninformed rumor). Of course, there is famously no love lost between Dingell and Waxman, who ousted him as Commerce chair. But Dingell’s stand could give cover for other Democrats to join in heeding the public outcry as legitimate. That letter in turn has prompted many CPSIA critics to write Dingell letters in hopes of arming him with more facts and arguments on the law’s ill effects: see in particular Rick Woldenberg and Wacky Hermit.

Waxman, for his part, has announced his intent to hold no hearing on the law until the Obama Administration installs a new chair at the Consumer Product Safety Commission. That serves the multiple functions of 1) stalling (while more small enterprises are driven out of business and thus are neutralized as political threats); 2) reinforcing the impression that the ball is in someone else’s court on addressing the law’s harms; 3) assisting in orchestrating whatever hearing is eventually held, since he expects an ally of his own to be installed as CPSC chair (the ultimate nightmare for CPSIA critics in that job would be someone like Pamela Gilbert, the class action lawyer, former plaintiff’s-lawyer lobbyist, and longtime Litigation Lobby figure who ran the Obama transition effort for the agency).

The membership of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, by the way, is listed here (hit “membership”; scroll to “Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection” to find the members most directly involved). The membership of the Senate Commerce Committee is listed here and that of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Insurance here.

Some miscellaneous weekend reading about the law: John Markley, Bureaucrash; Michael Maletic (Weil Gotshal & Manges), Republican National Lawyers Association; Ed Driscoll, Pajamas Media.
Public domain graphic: Grandma’s Graphics, Ruth Mary Hallock.

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CPSIA “people’s hearing” in D.C. April 1, and other protests
03.16.09 at 10:37 am

{ 5 comments }

1 joliefay2003 03.14.09 at 9:28 pm

CPSIA – Rally and Open Hearing April 1 in Washington, D.C.

http://www.learningresourcesinc.blogspot.com/

Please let people know about this. We need people to attend.

2 Sophie 03.15.09 at 12:14 pm

There is an interesting article in today’s Sunday NYTimes “Offering the Best Price for Learning Supplies: Free.”

Paper clips? polyurethane film? binders? fake coins? Do all of these give aways for children meet CPSIA lead and phthalate standards?

As I hear about the struggles of small businesses, Goodwill and others I see a bit of irony in this article to say the least.

3 John 03.15.09 at 12:56 pm

Surprise, the New York Times missed another opportunity to talk about CPSIA devastation.

How many of the products being given away free were donated by manufacturers because no paying customer would buy them without a Certificate of Compliance?

“…the center received items that would otherwise be destined for landfills or incinerators…” Business must be booming.

4 castocreations 03.18.09 at 4:36 pm

I’ve gotten two responses from my congress critters…one from Sen Patty Murray and one from Rep Adam Smith. Both claimed pride in their support for this “important” law to protect children. Barf. They weren’t short letters either…they didn’t look like standard form letters. Both of them are Dems. It doesn’t surprise me that Dems would like this law…it creates more government control and bureaucracy. You’d think with the Dems claims that they are for the “little guy” that they’d be ALL over this law as it affects so many small businesses and indie artists. *sigh* SO frustrating!

5 RIck 03.19.09 at 11:42 pm

Isn’t it amazing? Mr. Waxman, et al, are so concerned about children that they’ve totally ignored the number of children lost via abortions. God help us all.

Mr. Waxman is stalling for one very simple reason. He doesn’t want to admit that he is wrong with the content and implementation of this extremely flawed piece of legislation. If he were to hold a review hearing, it would be an immediate admission that CPSIA was ill conceived, ill written, and extremely flawed. How would that reflect on his learned image? Heaven forbid that his image be tarnished!

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