CPSIA Update: From the Confirmation Hearing

By August 5, 2009Regulations

Hearing for Commerce nominee Hightower now over.

Prepared statements from CPSC nominees:

Mr. Robert S. Adler

Ms. Anne M. Northup

We’ve been Tweating the hearing @NAM_Shopfloor

Hardly any news so far, though, except for Sen. Hutchison indicating the expectation is that the Commerce Committee will mark up the nominees quickly and the Senate will vote on confirmation by the end of the week.

UPDATE (11:45 a.m.): The hearing adjourns. Senators are feeling time pressure, and Adler and Northup are both solid nominees, so Chairman Pryor and committee members decided not to belabor the issue. Sen. Mark Pryor (D-MO), who chaired the hearing, also indicted a quick vote on confirmation.

Adler was clearly more knowledgeable than Northup about the CPSC, but that’s understandable given his agency and Capitol Hill experience. His most welcome comment came in a response to Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s inquiry about stays of enforcement, which he said he was not a fan of. In some cases they are too restrictive for “virtuous companies” but too loose for the “unvirtuous.” Adler expressed the willingness to look through the issues and say that CPSC may need to come to Congress for discretion, i.e., statutory changes to the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.

Hutchison also asked the nominees to come back with “corrections” for Congress, and Northup and Adler agreed.

Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) asked about contaminated Chinese drywall, which Northup saw as a major problem. (Contaminated dry-wall is a high-interest topic in the South and among trial lawyers.)

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) mentioned her home-state snowmobile companies, Polaris and Arctic Cat, and said referring to the lead standards said Congress did not expect the CPSIA to affect ATV sales as it did. (Children’s models were effectively banned.) She also urged the nominees to work with the Handmade Toy Alliance, also based in Minnesota, which has protested the CPSIA’s excesses, including the testing requirements that threaten small toymakers.

The one statement we did not hear: “I know the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act has put people out of business…”

UPDATE (1:35 p.m.): Should have noted that Sen. Hutchison also pointed to inconsistencies and enforcement by state attorneys general as subject worthy of concern. (Hat tip to Jen at Way to Bow.)

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