Mr. DINGELL. I yield myself an additional 30 seconds.
I am grateful for the extraordinary legislation our combined efforts have produced, of which this body and this Nation can indeed be proud. I urge the adoption of the legislation.
I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. BARTON of Texas. Madam Speaker, first let me say how delighted I am to see my good friend Bobby Rush back on the floor. We have missed him, but in his recovery from his situation, he has been a strong conferee. He hasn't known how strong he has been, I am sure, but he has been a stalwart in bringing this conference report to the floor, and we are delighted he is on the floor to taste the fruits of victory, which is well deserved because of his leadership on this issue at the subcommittee
and on the conference.
Madam Speaker, we have a rare thing before us. We have a conference report that has actually gone through the regular process. I want to commend my good friend, John Dingell of Michigan, the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, for his extremely positive leadership on this issue.
I want to compliment all of the House conferees: Mr. Waxman, Ms. DeGette, Ms. Schakowsky and Mr. Rush on the majority side, and Mr. Whitfield and Mr. Stearns on the minority side. The House conferees, under Mr. Dingell's leadership, have met numerous times at the principal level and uncounted times at the staff level.
The negotiations on this conference have not been easy. They have not been simplistic. They have been tense and hard-fought. On more than one occasion I have felt like getting up and walking away. I hate to admit it, with Mr. Rush being a minister, but I have thought bad thoughts about some of the conferees. But having said that, the end product is worthy of support by everybody.
This conference report shows how the House of Representatives should work. We took an issue that is not an easy issue. Chairman Dingell and Subcommittee Chairman Rush had a legislative hearing. They had a subcommittee markup. We had a full committee markup. We brought a bill to the floor. We had a motion to recommit. Mr. Dingell then got the House conferees together to make sure that we had a unified House position, and, when we couldn't, he kept bringing us together
until we could. As has been pointed out, the leadership of the staffs on both sides have worked together.
Under the conference chairman's leadership, Senator Inouye of Hawaii, the conference actually met. The Senate made proposals, the House responded, and vice a versa. The end result is a conference report that I believe every House conferee signed, and, as far as I know, every Senate conferee signed.
So that is a rarity, Madam Speaker, but the result is going to be a bill on the suspension calendar which for once deserves to be on the suspension calendar. I fully expect to get the same sort of vote on the conference report that we got on the House bill, and I believe the House bill, that passed something like 407-0 or 407-1, I am hopeful that this bill will pass with that same margin.
Now let me talk about what is actually in the bill. This is a strong bill. It gives the Consumer Product Safety Commission added authority to inspect and test children's toys. It creates for the first time a national laboratory that is headed by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. It gives States the right to set up independent laboratories in the State or to do third-party testing of products. It sets the toughest lead standards in the world for products that are going to be used by our
Because of Senator Stevens' leadership in the other body, it bans three-wheel ATVs from the American market. These insidious products are products that have begun to creep back into the market after the lapse of the consent agreement between the industry and the Justice Department that this body helped negotiate when I was a junior Member 15 or 20 years ago. It requires a rulemaking for four-wheel ATVs.
On a chemical compound called phthalates, it outlaws three specific phthalates that there is adequate evidence that they might be harmful in children's products. It sets up a science-based study on three other phthalates that gives the CPSC the authority to also outlaw them if the science shows that they should be. But it does also require that there be real science, that we don't ban or outlaw products on no science or bad science. There has to be reputable science that is peer-reviewed.
I want to commend Mr. Waxman, who was one of the House conferees. He and I disagreed on a number of issues, but we also agreed that we should try to find compromise. And we did; the bill reflects that. One of the main reasons that we have a conference report is because Chairman Waxman was willing to compromise, and I want to compliment him for doing that.
I could go on and on, Madam Speaker, and I will during the course of the debate, but let me simply say that this bill represents the Congress at its best. It represents a tough issue where we used the process, where we gave everybody a voice. Chairman Dingell has been exemplary in allowing the minority to participate and to provide input and ideas.
This is not the perfect bill that I would have had if I had been the only conferee. But it is a very, very good bill. It is a strong bill. It will protect America's children, it is worthy of support, and I hope that every Member this body votes in the affirmative for the bill later this afternoon.
Madam Speaker, with thanks, I want to reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. DINGELL. Madam Speaker, it is with a great deal of pleasure that I welcome back our good friend and colleague the Reverend Rush from Illinois, and I yield to him, the author of this legislation, the chairman of the subcommittee, 5 minutes in support of the legislation.
Mr. RUSH. Madam Speaker, I certainly want to commend and thank my chairman of the full committee, Chairman John Dingell, for his extraordinary leadership in this Congress, particularly in the conference on this particular bill. I want to thank him for his long-standing friendship and for his preoccupation with the affairs of the American people. He is a man who deserves a lot of praise and honor.
Madam Speaker, today is a day unlike any other day. It is a joyous occasion, because this Congress has demonstrated to the American people that we are capable of reaching across the aisle in a bipartisan fashion to solve a major consumer crisis.
It is also a special day, because today marks my return to this Congress following an extended medical leave. With God's grace, with the support of skilled medical professionals at the University of Chicago Medical Center, I can stand here and announce to my colleagues, to my constituents and to the Nation that I no longer have cancer in my body.
Madam Speaker, before I directly address H.R. 4040, there are several people I would like to thank. First, I give all thanks to God for all of you, especially [Page: H7579]
for your prayers, as I bear witness that the prayers of the righteous avail much.
I want to give honor and thanks to my dear wife, Carolyn, and my family, who journeyed with me through the valley of the shadow of death.
I specifically would like to thank Speaker Pelosi, who called me several times to check on my well-being. I also again would like to thank John Dingell, who called many times. I would like to thank my colleague from Chicago, Congressman Danny Davis, who showed his love and concern for my well-being. I would like to thank the chairman of the CBC, Carolyn Kilpatrick, who called many times. Chairman Charles Rangel wrote me numerous letters encouraging
me. And I would like to thank my good friend from New York, Ed Towns, for all of his indications of support and well-being. Lastly, I would like to thank Ms. Corrine Brown of Florida. All of these individuals were prominent and prolific in their concern and care for me and in their well wishes.
I am also grateful for the prayers and support of my constituents in the First Congressional District of Illinois, and a host of others throughout the U.S. and around the world. My standing here today is a testimony to your prayers and to God's grace.
So, Madam Speaker, I stand here today. After decades of neglect, this 110th Congress will soon pass landmark legislation that comprehensively overhauls and reforms our consumer product safety laws and revitalizes the beleaguered Consumer Product Safety Commission.
This conference report represents over a year's work. It represents careful, often painstaking negotiations between House and Senate Democrats and Republicans. It wasn't easy, but, in the end, conferees were willing to make smart compromises and bridge their many divides. Indeed, this conference report is the very definition of bicameral, bipartisan cooperation.
Madam Speaker, on May 15 of last year, I held my first hearing on toy safety in the subcommittee. Since then, the Energy and Commerce Committee unanimously reported to the House floor H.R. 4040, the Consumer Product Safety Modernization Act, and the House passed the bill 407-0.
Mr. RUSH. The gentleman thanks the gentleman for yielding.
Today's conference report draws on the strength of both the House and Senate-passed bills. It fundamentally strengthens the CPSC's regulatory authority and effectively bans lead and certain phthalates in children's products.
It creates a publicly accessible database on consumer products, mandates laboratory testing of all toys, provides whistleblower protection to private sector employees, improves cooperation between the CPSC and the U.S. Customs and Border Control, and empowers State Attorneys General with the injunctive authority to enforce Federal law. In sum, the conference report on H.R. 4040 weaves and deploys a wide safety net that will snare the dangerous consumer products before they enter the stream of
commerce and into our homes.
Madam Speaker, I want to again thank my dear friend, Chairman John Dingell, for his unbelievable leadership during the conference. I also want to express my sincere gratitude to one of the finest members of this body, to the distinguished ranking member and former chairman, Mr. Joe Barton of Texas, for his unwavering cooperation. Mr. Barton, along with Mr. Whitfield and Mr. Stearns, have shown a remarkable commitment to bipartisanship, and their willingness
to compromise cannot be overstated. And the same can be said for the other House Democratic conferees, Mr. Waxman, Ms. DeGette, and the vice chair of the subcommittee, Ms. Schakowsky.
Madam Speaker, I also want to thank the staff of the CPSC for all of their hard work and dedication throughout this process. Lastly, I want to thank both the Democratic and Republican staff of the subcommittee. They put in long hours. I want to lift up Consuela Washington, Judith Bailey, Andrew Woelfling, Valerie Baron, and Christian Fjeld. I brag about the subcommittee staff. Madam Speaker, I have the best subcommittee staff in the House of Representatives.
Mr. BARTON of Texas. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
I want to commend my good friend, Mr. Rush, for his efforts; and I see that we have a distinguished visitor from the other body. We are glad to have Senator Durbin on the floor.
With that, I want to yield 4 minutes to a distinguished member of the committee and a conferee, Mr. Stearns of Florida.
(Mr. STEARNS asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. STEARNS. I address my colleague, Mr. Rush, and say to him I am impressed with the courage and energy that you come down here, and we want to thank you today for taking that extra time. All of us obviously wish you well, and hope and pray and provide great love and friendship that the healing powers of the Lord Almighty will bring great restorative powers on you and you will be successful. We are inspired by you being here today. Obviously it has been fun working with you on this
bill and others as the ranking member when you became chairman.
Madam Speaker, I rise in support of this legislation, and obviously I urge its immediate passage. As former chairman and ranking member of the Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection Subcommittee, I have been involved in these issues for many, many years. When I was chairman, we held numerous hearings and markups on a variety of issues, not just on toy safety and lead standards but also the Consumer Product Safety Commission itself. In addition, we held consumer protection hearings on privacy,
on the Ford-Firestone tire safety, and consumer protection on the Internet, including spyware, data security, and ID theft. We compiled a long record on this subcommittee.
This bill is a culmination of many years of hard work and oversight. However, like many bills, this bill, H.R. 4040, is not entirely perfect, not all of it is exactly what we may have wanted, but it does go a long way to protect our children against harmful products. And that is the most important issue.
Over the last 2 years, my colleagues, we have seen numerous children's product and toy recalls rise dramatically. Many of these recalls were because of excessive amounts of lead in toys being imported from China. As if parents didn't have enough to worry about, they are now faced with another dilemma: Are the toys that they are buying their children safe today? That is a question they are asking. Today, with passage of this conference report, we will make sure that children are kept safe from
While many Members on both sides have focused mainly on the growing compliance shortfalls with toys that are manufactured outside the United States today, particularly in China, toys have not been the only problem over the past several years. As imports of every type of product have risen over the years, so have the number of problems that have been associated with these particular products. But the Consumer Product Safety Commission has done a fairly good job of meeting this daunting challenge.
As you can imagine, there are 15,000 different kinds of products. They have issued more recalls over the last 2 years than any other time in our history. I commend them for their diligent work in protecting the American people and their children. Despite this good work, we recognize the need to provide the Commission with additional resources, which we are doing today. We authorize significant increases in their budget so that the Commission can fulfill their mission to keep defective products
that can cause injury, or worse, out of the stream of commerce today.
This bill is good public policy that not only provides the Commission with new resources but also provides for new standards regarding lead paint and implements the most stringent standard ever for lead content in children's products. This bill requires testing and certification of children's products before they are ever shipped to store shelves, and provides increased penalties for companies that violate the law. [Page: H7580]
New labeling requirements will help facilitate effective recalls, and the bill provides greater authority for the Commission to recall harmful products and notify the public of these dangers.
It is very important that they have this additional recall authority that is in this bill.
Mr. STEARNS. My colleagues, all of us on this conference committee and in the subcommittee have worked with the consumer groups, industry leaders, and the Commission itself to make this a bipartisan, sound bill that works effectively. I would like to commend the hard work of Chairman Rush, Chairman Dingell, Ranking Member Barton, Ranking Member Ed Whitfield, the Senate conferees, and all the committee staff that worked so tirelessly on this important legislation.
It is a fact we have a bipartisan bill. It was bipartisan out of the subcommittee and the full Committee on Energy and Commerce.
There are things you can complain about Congress, but today you can commend Congress for working in such a bipartisan fashion to get a very important bill after these many, many years. It is a commendation both to Mr. Dingell and Mr. Barton. Through their differences and through the different members on the Senate conferees, they were able to work patiently, consistently, and persevere until we have this final product today.
I urge all my colleagues to support this critical bipartisan legislation, and I look forward to its implementation soon.
Mr. DINGELL. Madam Speaker, I want to thank my good friend from Florida (Mr. Stearns). He was one of an outstanding group of conferees, as was Mr. Barton and Mr. Whitfield. They deserve the thanks of this body; as also was Mr. Rush, Ms. DeGette, and Ms. Schakowsky.
I now yield 3 minutes to the distinguished gentleman from California (Mr. Waxman) who was one of the able conferees who has brought us a fine bipartisan bill.
Mr. WAXMAN. I thank Chairman Dingell. Again, I am pleased to support this bill today. I am going to submit a longer statement for the Record, but I want to commend all those who have been involved in bringing about legislation that Democrats and Republicans can support and state with good, clear conscience that it is a very important step forward for consumers.
Mr. BARTON of Texas. Madam Speaker, I yield myself 3 minutes.
Madam Speaker, as we go through the debate this afternoon, I will mention some of the specifics in the bill. I would like to point out that the bill before us does have Federal preemptions so that there is one Federal standard and there is one agency to enforce that standard with regards to the safety of children's products, and that is the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
This is important to note, because if we didn't have that, you could have each of the 50 States setting different standards; you could have a conglomeration of rules that would make it very difficult for interstate commerce. So one of the compromises in the bill is that there is Federal preemption, that there is one standard for all the States, and I am very pleased that that is in the bill.
I would also like to point out that the pending bill gives the Commission new authority, gives the Commission new resources, increases the number of commissioners from three to five, and, as I have already pointed out, does create a CPSC testing laboratory so that our children's toys will be tested in the laboratory before they are tested by our children on the living room floors of America.
I would also like to compliment the staffs on both sides, as has already been done by full committee Chairman Dingell and subcommittee Chairman Rush. But on the Democratic staff, Consuela Washington actually I think served as the key that kept all of the staffs working together, and her patience was just extraordinary. She was even patient with members like me, and I appreciate that tremendously. Judith Bailey, Christian Fjeld, Andrew Woelfling, Valerie Baron all worked very,
very hard on the majority side at the staff level. On the minority side, I am very proud of Will Carty, Shannon Weinberg, Brian McCullough, Chad Grant, Jerry Couri, and even our interns, Beth Manzullo, and John Hammond had some input into the work product, and I want to commend them, especially this past weekend where they worked both Saturday and Sunday so this conference report could come to the floor today.
Madam Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Ms. PELOSI. Madam Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding time, and for his hard work and great leadership in bringing this important legislation to the floor in a way that is bipartisan and shows the full support of this Congress as a Congress for America's children.
It is a special day for us because this bill is long overdue, and took a ``New Direction Congress'' to work it out and bring it to the floor in the form that it is in, which is to protect America's children.
But it is a special day for another reason, and that is because one of the main authors of the bill, Congressman Rush of Illinois, is back with us today. We are all family, and to have our family member return in good health is really something very special to us.
He worked so hard to pass this bill the end of last year, so that before Christmas, families across America could know that Congress cared about our children. The bill passed on a suspension calendar with a strong bipartisan vote with the support of community groups that care about children.
So Mr. Dingell, thank you for making this come to fruition, especially at a time when Mr. Rush could be back here with us so that we could say to him, in person, thank you for your leadership for America's children. We love you. You make it a very special day for us when we can do something for America's children and to do so in your presence.
Thank you, Mr. Rush, for your leadership.
This bill is necessary because, does anybody not know that I am a grandmother?
My husband always says, I just wonder how far into your speech it is before you start talking about your grandchildren.
But as a mother of five and a grandmother of seven, and a person who observes a wider range of children in our extended family, I know that we, moms and parents, want to do everything they can to do the best for their children. But we have our limitations. We have to depend on the Federal Government, and government in general, to protect our children from chemicals that may be harmful to their health or even worse than that.
And so, the last several years, even this past year have been called the year of recalls. The Year 2007 was dubbed the ``Year of the Recall'' by Consumer's Union.
More than 45 million toys and children's products were recalled last year, and some were found to contain nearly 200 times the legal amount of lead. Toys, toy trains, costumes, magnets, because and even baby bottles were among the common, everyday items found to be harmful to our children.
What is a parent to do?
This year dangerous toy and product recalls are happening in even swifter rates. The number of recalled toys and children's products is up 22 percent over the first half of last year. What is a parent to do?
Most of the toys that were recalled should never have found their way on to the shelves of local toy stores. Over the last several years, at the same time of these record toy recalls, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which is charged with testing toys before they end up in the homes of our children, have been starved for resources. The agency lost 15 percent of its work force between 2004 and 2007. And in 2007, even the Commission's Acting Director complained that there was only one lonely
toy tester at the Commission.
Today, at this legislation, we strengthen the ability, our ability to prevent those toys from even getting to market, get products off the shelves more quickly, and increase fines and penalties for violating product safety laws.
The legislation eliminates lead beyond a minute amount in toys and other products intended for children under 12 years of age. It also bans toxic phthalates in children's toys and child care articles.
Today the ``New Direction Congress'' is asserting our responsibility to protect children from dangerous toys. Dangerous toys. Think of that. Shouldn't that be an oxymoron? It should be a given that toys are not dangerous. Sometimes they can be used inappropriately. Somebody can fall with a toy, et cetera, but if it has within its very make-up something that is harmful to the health of children, something is wrong with this picture.
The Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act, which is what this bill is, of 2008, is the result of the leadership of many in Congress. I again want to acknowledge the leadership of Chairman Dingell and Bobby Rush. I also want to acknowledge Ranking Member Barton for his cooperation in bringing this bill to the floor. I would like to acknowledge other leaders on the Energy and Commerce Committee, Congressman Waxman, Congresswoman Schakowsky, Congresswoman
Diana DeGette, and also Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, not on that committee, but a person on the Appropriations Committee who has some jurisdiction over this issue, and who has been relentless, a relentless grandmother on behalf of children.
So I would salute this as a bipartisan effort on behalf of our Nation's most valuable resource, our children, because it is our sacred duty to protect them.
We began this Congress calling it to order in the name of all of America's children. Today we are honoring some of our promise to them by keeping their toys and children's products safe.
Again, Madam Speaker, I urge our colleagues to give an overwhelming unanimous vote on support for this important legislation for the children.
Mr. BARTON of Texas. Madam Speaker, I yield myself 2 minutes.
Madam Speaker, I again want to talk about some of the specifics in the legislation. The bill before us would give the Commission new tools, such as greater authority to expedite recalls; would give the Commission the authority to strengthen reporting requirements to facilitate the identification of the origin of the problems that arise in the supply chain.
We also give the Commission expanded authority to better monitor [Page: H7582]
and regulate the tremendous increase in the number of products that we import from overseas. The Commission, for the first time, has got explicit authority to consult with United States Customs and Border Protection Service to better identify dangerous products before they enter the country.
The bill, as I have said earlier, also provides national uniform standards for many children's products, rather than relying on a patchwork of disparate State and local rules.
As has been pointed out, the bill before us has the toughest standard on lead, which is basically no lead in children's products as they come into the national market, whether they are manufactured here in the United States or overseas.
There is a concern on some part about the implementation for the schedule for manufacturers to comply with this new lead requirement, but I am confident that they have the resources to do so and will do so.
Madam Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. DINGELL. Madam Speaker, it is a great privilege for me to yield at this time 3 minutes to the distinguished gentlewoman from Colorado, who had so much to do with the success of the conference, my dear friend, Ms. Diana DeGette.
Ms. DeGETTE. Madam Speaker, I want to also thank Chairman Dingell for his strong leadership on this issue, and also Ranking Member Barton for his wonderful ability to compromise on the bill.
As the Speaker just told us, last year, it seemed like every day parents were being told that their children's toys were not innocent playthings and, in fact, were very dangerous. This mainly happened during the holiday season, where parents had no idea whether what they were buying to put under the tree would harm or even kill their child.
For a long time now, we have all realized that our consumer product safety system is broken. The CPSC clearly needed more staff, more resources, and more authority. Our consumer protection laws needed to be brought into the 21st century.
This legislation goes a long way to solving those problems. I am so proud to have been one of the House conferees on H.R. 4040. By working diligently with our Senate colleagues and our colleagues on the other side of the aisle, we produced a strong, bipartisan bill.
This conference report has a number of provisions which will protect our kids, and I just want to highlight a few of them. It bans lead in children's products beyond trace amounts, the highest standards in the world. It permanently bans three phthalates and temporarily bans three others in toys for kids 12 and under; and, in fact, it extends all of the consumer protections to kids 12 and under because of the issue of shared toy boxes.
It requires independent third-party testing of children's products to ensure that they are safe before they are sold.
It increases the CPSC's budget dramatically, and it stops the export of certain dangerous products.
I want to thank my conference committee colleagues and all of the staff members involved for pulling together such a good bill.
Chairman, or former chairman, Ranking Member Barton was right when he said this is the way legislation should be, a strong collaborative effort that produces real results that will help all of the consumers of America.
I hope, throughout the fall, as we move into the next holiday season, parents can take this issue off their plates as one they have to worry about and, instead they can worry about giving their kids a strong, safe holiday season as we approach the end of this year.
Mr. BARTON of Texas. Madam Speaker, I want to yield myself 2 minutes.
Madam Speaker, I hope I can get that quote and frame it, that I was right. It is good to know that I have been right about something in this Congress. I will take that home and show it to my family and my children, and maybe they will appreciate me a little bit more.
I want to keep going through some of the substance on the conference report, Madam Speaker. I want to talk now, in this little segment, about the chemical compound called phthalates. Phthalates are the product, compound that are used in plastics to make them soft. There has been some evidence in the last several years that, in large quantities, in certain products, if a child were to ingest them, that it could cause problems in the development of that child in their teenage years. The science
is uncertain, but there is growing concern.
Some States have begun to ban these products. The European Union has banned certain of these phthalates and, as a result, in the other body, the Senate bill had a prohibition based on a California standard on a large number of these particular compounds. I didn't believe then, and I am still uncertain whether it is necessary to specifically ban these compounds because they have been used in products for a large number of years and there is no known instance of any kind of a phthalate poisoning
or phthalate deformity in humans.
Having said that, when Congresswoman Diana DeGette came to my office unannounced as I was trying to gather support to sustain a veto of what I thought would be a different bill, I did agree to work with Mr. Waxman and Senator Boxer in the other body and come up with a compromise.
I must also say that Chairman Dingell was instrumental in that, as he counseled me, in only the way that Chairman Dingell can, about the need for bipartisan compromise. The result is the bill before us where three specific phthalates are banned outright, and another three are temporarily prohibited while we do a comprehensive scientific study. That is the essence of compromise.
Mr. BARTON of Texas. Madam Speaker, I yield myself an additional 1 minute.
And I do want to give, as I said, in the conference, Congresswoman DeGette should get the Henry Kissinger award for diplomacy because she actually was apparently shuttling between my office, Chairman Dingell's office, Mr. Waxman's office and maybe even Congresswoman Schakowsky's office. That was a tremendous amount of effort on her part, and it does show that when there is trust and bipartisan willingness to cooperate and, as Lyndon Johnson, the great former
President and Member of this body once said, ``There is nothing that is not compromisable.'' And certainly, this conference report shows that that is a true statement.
I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. DINGELL. Madam Speaker, at this time I am delighted to yield to the distinguished gentlewoman from Illinois (Ms. Schakowsky) who was so valuable and so helpful in achieving this purpose today, 3 minutes.
Ms. SCHAKOWSKY. Madam Speaker, as a conferee on this bill, I proudly rise to support the conference report to H.R. 4040, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.
When we began this process of reforming the Consumer Product Safety Commission over a year ago, I set out one goal, to ensure that the toys and products I buy for my grandchildren are safe. I am pleased to say that the conference report we are considering today fulfills that goal for all of America's children.
H.R. 4040 is legislation that every Member of Congress can be proud to support. It is a product of bipartisan negotiation and compromise. I, too, want to thank our esteemed chairman, JOHN DINGELL, for shepherding us through this process, as well as ranking member JOE BARTON, my fellow conferees, and all of the staff and consumer advocates that worked so hard on this bill.
I also want to thank our Senate counterparts. Chairing the conference was Senator Inouye, and the key author of the Senate companion bill was Senator MARK PRYOR of Arkansas. They both deserve the gratitude of the House, especially if they pass this bill this week.
I am especially thrilled, however, to welcome back to Washington my friend and chairman of the Consumer Protection Subcommittee and chief sponsor of this bill, Congressman BOBBY RUSH. You have been deeply missed, and I'm so happy to have you back on this momentous occasion which you have made more momentous.
With this conference report, Congress is breathing new needed life into the [Page: H7583]
CPSC. For the first time, we are virtually banning lead in children's products as well as the harmful phthalates that can cause hormonal damage. We're improving the CPSC's enforcement authority and maintaining the authority of State attorneys general to ensure that the products sold in their States comply with the law. And we are providing consumers with a publicly searchable
incident database that will allow them to report hazards to one another.
There are three provisions I am particularly proud to have authored in this conference report.
The first is language directing the CPSC to devise mandatory safety standards for infant and toddler durable products. Those are the things that are in every nursery: cribs, high chairs, playpens, strollers, bassinets. It also requires pre-market testing of those products to ensure that they meet those standards. Bottom line, we will no longer be using our children as test dummies. The government will be ensuring their safety.
Second, I'm gratified that the conference report includes the Danny Keysar Child Product Safety Notification Act in its entirety. I crafted this legislation in honor of Danny Keysar who was strangled to death when he was 16 months old at his licensed daycare facility when the portable crib he was sleeping in collapsed. The crib that killed Danny had been recalled 5 years earlier, but the daycare center didn't know that.
To improve the product recall system, manufacturers of children's products will be required to attach a postage-paid recall registration card to each product that can be mailed in to notify the purchaser when a product is recalled for safety reasons. This provision is a tribute to the work of Danny's parents, Linda Ginzel and Boaz Keysar, who created the organization Kids in Danger 3 weeks after Danny's death in order to prevent other children and families from suffering the same tragedy.
Ms. SCHAKOWSKY. Finally, I am delighted the conference report contains a provision to immediately adopt the set of existing voluntary toy standards as a mandatory standard on an interim basis. Then the CPSC, working with consumer groups, will assess those standards, beginning with the toys that present the greatest hazards, and develop not only the best possible mandatory standards, but require pre-testing to those standards. At last, all toys will be tested before they arrive on toy store shelves.
Madam Speaker, the conference report we will adopt today will finally bring the CPSC into the 21st century, and will, I hope, transform it into the world's foremost consumer protection agency.
It was an honor to be working on this bill.
Mr. BARTON of Texas. Madam Speaker, I yield myself 2 minutes.
Madam Speaker, in previous comments I have thanked the committee staffs. On this occasion, I want to thank some of our friends at the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
I want to thank Cheri Falvey, who is general counsel; Gib Mullan, who is the director of compliance; Lowell Martin, the deputy general counsel; Quin Dodd, chief of staff to Acting Chairman Nord; Jack Horner, director of congressional relations. They've all worked very hard on this legislation.
We also want to thank some of our hearing witnesses: Dr. Marilyn Wind, who is a pharmacologist who testified before the other body; Dr. Michael Babich, a chemist, who testified before the Energy and Commerce Committee. Some of our database presenters were Pat Weddle, who is director of IT services, and DeWayne Ray, deputy CIO. Some of the laboratory people who talked to us about how to detect lead: Dr. Joel Recht.
And finally some of the staff, some of the Commission staffers who worked with us on the budget numbers: Mr. Ed Quist, who is the director of financial management of CPSC; and N.J. Scheers, director of planning and budget.
Those are some of the staff people in the CPSC and the witnesses who helped us prepare this legislation. We should commend them for their efforts.
I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. EMANUEL. The best news is after November, we will have a new commissioner who doesn't say ``yes'' to the status quo but says ``yes'' to the new powers to make sure that we are protecting our children and their families.
Mr. BARTON of Texas. Madam Speaker, I have no other speakers, and I am prepared to close. I am also prepared to yield some of my time to Chairman Dingell if he needs additional time.
At this point in time, though, I would reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. DINGELL. Madam Speaker, I am delighted at this time to yield 2 minutes to the distinguished gentlewoman from Ohio (Ms. Sutton).
Ms. SUTTON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your leadership on this amazing legislation. Consumer product safety is not an area that we can afford to ignore, and this historic legislation that we're passing today is a tremendous victory for consumers.
This year dangerous toy and product recalls are happening at an unprecedented rate. I remember just a couple of months ago reading a story in my local paper about possible lead contamination and the paint on plastic Easter eggs. That is unacceptable.
For far too long we've been reading story upon story about dangerous toys and contaminated food. Imports from foreign countries continue to grow, and many manufacturers from foreign countries fail to adhere to even basic safety standards.
The American people should not have to worry about the safety of the products they use or the toys that they give their children to play with. Last year, more than 25 million toys were recalled [Page: H7584]
in the U.S., and 80 percent of all toys sold in the United States are imported from China.
This relationship between the growing import safety crisis and American trade policy is notable and requires us to strengthen our oversight here at home. To do that, the Consumer Product Safety Commission needs to have the resources to help protect our families and then they need to do it.
Our bill strengthens the CPSC and ensures American families are protected from dangerous toys, and this legislation bans lead beyond a minute amount in many products, creating the toughest lead standard in the world.
Madam Speaker, my constituents deserve to know that their government is doing everything it can to keep their families safe. Today with passage of this bill, we are upholding that responsibility.
I thank you again, Chairman Dingell, and your committee for all of your hard work, and thanks to Speaker Pelosi for making this issue a priority. I also want to express my appreciation to Representative BOBBY RUSH for his commitment and his leadership in bringing this legislation to fruition.
I urge my colleagues to support this important work.
Mr. DINGELL. Madam Speaker, I have no further requests for time. I am ready to close and to say appropriate remarks for my good friend from Texas for his fine work and that of all of the other members who have worked so hard on this. So I will close at the proper time.
Mr. DINGELL. I yield myself the balance of the time for the purposes of closing.
I want to make a little observation about my friend from Texas. He's too kind to me and not kind enough to himself. He and I have the privilege of leading the Commerce Committee. It's a great committee composed of great Members, and we are proud, indeed, of them all, and we have an extraordinary staff, and they deserve the gratitude of this body for the fine work they did.
My good friend from Texas and I have had some fine fights, but we have over the years become great friends, as well we should be. And he has earned not just my respect and affection but that of all of his colleagues on the committee and in this body because he's a fine, decent and wonderful human being.
And I know that there were difficult times for him, as there were for all of our other conferees, Mr. Rush, Mr. Waxman, Ms. DeGette, Ms. Schakowsky, Mr. Stearns, and Mr. Whitfield, and I know on one occasion it looked like this thing was going down the tube. But Ms. DeGette and my good friend from Texas (Mr. Barton) got together, and they pulled it together and made it work. And we owe them thanks for that. It's great public
And we also do for Mr. Waxman, because at a very difficult time, the question of preemption and the level of phthalates was before us, and in a very quick and gentlemanly way, Mr. Barton and Mr. Waxman worked that issue out. We owe them thanks for that.
We have given the House a good bill. It's a bill that's going to protect people. It's a bill that's going to not just protect people but kids, and I think we have to give a nod here to Mr. Serrano, the chairman of the Appropriations Committee, because without proper funding this legislation is not going to work, and people are going to keep getting killed by shoddy products, [Page: H7585]
most of which are imports. And we understand that under Mr. Serrano's
leadership, there will be $100 million in the appropriation next year for dealing with the problems of this agency.
Again, Madam Speaker, this is a good bill. It shows how the House can work together and how the process, when properly used, leads to good legislation.
My good friend, Mr. Barton, is an institutionalist, and we're very proud of that. And I pride myself that I, in some small way, am one of those, too. But this is the way the place should work. For hundreds of years, wise men and women have left us the way that this place can and should work, and it's my hope that as we go forward in this Congress and in following Congresses that we will again be able to work as we did on this matter, not just on the Commerce Committee but on all others.
Commerce is very proud of its traditions and its history. We're also very proud of our other sister committees and of the good work that they do, and it is a real privilege for me to commend all of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and say to them well done for the great work that you have done. All of us have reason to be proud, and all of us have reason to be grateful, and all of us have strong reason to be delighted to see back our old friend Reverend RUSH, who started this whole
And so, Madam Speaker, to my colleagues I say, well done, let's vote this legislation through. It's a great piece of legislation, and it will protect and it will save lives, health, and the security of our people.