In this town, it’s a rare occurrence for a room full of lobbyists to be truly surprised. This morning was one of those times. In remarks to the American Alliance for Innovation, a coalition of industry trade groups of which the NAM is a member, Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) announced today that he was introducing his long-awaited Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) reform legislation . . . except that rather than introducing an “alternative” bill to legislation from Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), he had instead drafted a brand new bill with Sen. Lautenberg that they were introducing along with over a dozen other Republicans and Democrats.
We commend Sens. Vitter and Lautenberg for their leadership and for achieving a far too rare feat in Washington: coming together in bipartisan fashion to propose badly-needed reform to a federal law impacting human health, manufacturers in all sectors, and American innovation.
Manufacturers are committed to producing safe, innovative and sustainable products that provide essential benefits to consumers while protecting human health and the environment. To accomplish this, we believe Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA), the primary statute regulating the manufacture and use of chemical substances in the United States, should be modernized. However, we worried that the debate over how to reform this outdated law would fall prey to partisan politics, much like the vast majority of other environmental and energy issues in recent memory.
Today at least, it appears that bipartisanship can prevail. We believed Senators needed to start from scratch; it appears that they did. We believed there needed to be broad stakeholder input; once again, there was. And there needed to be some way to bridge the substantive divide between Sen. Lautenberg’s Safe Chemicals Act, which industry opposed, and this new bill being drafted by Sen. Vitter. The Senators made it happen.
We look forward to reviewing the Chemical Safety Improvement Act of 2013 with our member organizations in the coming weeks in order to assess its impact on manufacturers. Ensuring the safety of products is the single most important goal of manufacturers. Safe chemical substances are produced and used in products throughout the supply chain and are critical to everything from producing the energy that fuels our country to manufacturing the medical equipment used in our hospitals.
Given the importance of chemical substances in countless products and processes and the role they will play in future technological breakthroughs, it is of the upmost importance that barriers to innovation and product development be minimized. As the engine for U.S. jobs and prosperity, manufacturers depend on policymakers from both political parties to work together to craft policies that support economic growth. Thus, we are encouraged to see such a broad group of Senators representing a diverse collection of states come together on this important manufacturing issue and applaud them for their cooperative effort.
Cosponsors of the bill include: Gillibrand (D-NY); Crapo (R-ID); Durbin (D-IL); Alexander (R-TN); Schumer (D-NY); Inhofe (R-OK); Udall (D-NM); Collins (R-ME); Manchin (D-WV); Rubio (R-FL); Landrieu (D-LA); Boozman (R-AR); Menendez (D-NJ); Hoeven (R-ND)
Ross Eisenberg is vice president of energy and resources policy, National Association of Manufacturers.