House Approves Bill to Overhaul Beleagured Federal Product Safety

December 21, 2007

Less than a week before Christmas, the House of Representatives approved legislation Wednesday that seeks to boost consumer confidence in U.S. product safety regulation and strengthen toy testing.

The bill would increase funding for the Consumer Product Safety Commission, give it a new testing lab, reduce the levels of lead allowed in children’s products to trace amounts and mandate additional testing of toys.

The bill, sponsored by Reps. John Dingell, D-Mich., Bobby Rush, D-Ill. and Joe Barton, R-Texas, would also boost the maximum fines the agency can impose to $10 million from $1.25 million.

“I am confident that with increased funding, as well as enhanced tools to verify and enforce the compliance of both domestic and imported consumer products with U.S. laws and regulations, the CPSC will do a much better job of protecting our nation’s consumers and their children,” Dingell said in a statement.

The legislation would overhaul the CPSC for the first time in 15 years. Consumer groups and Democrats in Congress haven’t let up on their calls for agency reform since the fall, when Mattel Inc. and other companies were forced to recall millions of toys due to excessive levels of lead and other hazards.

Similar legislation was approved by a Senate committee in October and is awaiting action on the Senate floor. That bill has several provisions opposed by business groups. Reconciling the two versions of the legislation could prove difficult.

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