Last Thursday, Republican and Democrat members of the U.S. House of Representatives expressed some desire to modify the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act ("CPSIA"). The House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade, which is now chaired by Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-CA), held its first hearing and heard from CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum and Commissioner Anne Northup. Our Government Relations and Public Policy group covered the hearing.
Chairman Bono Mack opened the hearing by describing her plan to focus on getting the economy back on track and bringing jobs back to America, starting with looking at problematic provisions of the CPSIA. Even Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), who has a long history of involvement in product safety laws, suggested that CPSC regulations requiring third-party safety testing of all children's products were too broad and should be revised.
Much of the discussion focused on the consumer incident database, which is scheduled to launch in March. CPSC Chairman Tenenbaum and Commissioner Northup had differing views on several aspects of the database, including its cost, whether a cost-benefit analysis is appropriate, and whether the database collects sufficient information for a manufacturer to conduct a meaningful review.
Opponents of the database made some progress early Saturday morning as the House passed an amendment to an appropriations bill that would strip financing for the database. Manufacturers and importers should continue to watch closely as this dialogue continues.