Robert Adler Archives - Shopfloor

CPSIA Update: CPSC Extends Deadline for Lead Testing, Certification

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The Consumer Product Safety Commission on Tuesday, Feb. 1, voted 4-1 to extend the deadline to Dec. 31 for third-party product testing and certification for lead content under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. Only Commissioner Robert Adler voted against the extension.

The CPSC’s news release is here, and the draft statement for the Federal Register is here.

Commissioner Nancy Nord said:

This extension will … give the agency more time to complete the component testing proposed rule and the testing and certification proposed rule. Both these rules need to be in place before the stay of enforcement is lifted. While I would have preferred to specifically tie the lifting of the stay to the issuance of these rules, the December date gives everyone—the agency and manufacturers–a bit more time to prepare.

The stay of enforcement does not relieve anyone from complying with the underlying lead regulations. Therefore, consumer safety is not impacted by the agency’s action. Instead we have pushed off for a bit longer this burdensome third-party testing requirement. However, unless Congress changes the law, the testing requirement will go into effect at the end of December.

The National Association of Manufacturers and members of the NAM’s CPSC Coalition had sought the extension. We appreciate the CPSC’s decision that reflects the real obstacles businesses had encountered in trying to meet the unworkable requirements, and certainly agree with Commissioner Nord that Congress needs to fix the fundamentally flawed Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.

More …

  • Statement of Chairman Inez M. Tenenbaum on the Commission Approval of a Final Extension of the Lead Content Testing and Certification Stay of Enforcement, February 2, 2011 (pdf)
  • Statement of Commissioner Robert S. Adler Regarding the Extension of CPSC Stay of Enforcement of Testing and Certification Requirements on Lead Content in Children’s Products, February 1, 2011 (pdf)
  • Statement of Commissioner Anne M. Northup on the Extension of the Stay of Enforcement on the Testing and Certification of Certain Children’s Products for Total Lead Content, February 2, 2011 (pdf)

CPSIA Update: From the Confirmation Hearing

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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.)

CPSIA Update: Anne Northup IS Nominated to CPSC

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Last week President Obama announced his intent to nominate former Kentucky Congresswoman Anne Northup to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, but as of 7 a.m. today there’s no indication on the White House webpage of the actually nomination having occurred. You can’t have a confirmation hearing without a nomination.

But it is, Page S8701of the Monday Congressional Record:


The Senate Commerce Committee’s confirmation hearing is set for Wednesday, 10 a.m. Also appearing is Robert Adler, a former top CPSC staffer. Given the economic damage wrought by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, it might be helpful for Senators to call on Adler’s expertise and ask whether the CPSC should be given more flexilibity to implement the law. But we doubt that happens.

It’s certainly possible that the committee will work quickly on these nominations, vote them out right after the hearing and have a Senate vote (or unanimous consent) to confirm them before Senators leave at the end of the week.

UPDATE (7:25 a.m.): Didn’t immediately note that Northup’s term will expire in October 2011. Adler’s seven-year term starts with October 27, 2007, meaning he has until 2014.

CPSIA Update: Confirmation Hearings for CPSC Set Next Wednesday

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The Senate Commerce Committee has announced a hearing for next Wednesday on the nominations of Anne Northup and Robert Adler to serve as commissioners on the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Details here.

That’s quick. (The President has only announced his intention to nominate Northup. Assuming the actual nomination comes today or Monday.)

News coverage on Northup’s nomination:

MSNBC characterized the nomination as another “step by Obama to bring Republicans into the Administration.”  Since it’s a commission seat reserved for a non-Democrat, not really. A clarification followed.

CPSIA Update: President Will Nominate Northup to CPSC

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The White House yesterday issued a statement announcing President Obama’s plans to nominate the former U.S. Representative from Kentucky, Anne Northup, to be a member of the Consumer Product Safety Commission. She would hold a Republican seat on the commission.

If Northup and Robert Adler, a Democrat whom the President nominated in June, are confirmed by the Senate, the CPSC would reach its full five-member composition called for by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. Gaining that full membership increases accountability and, theoretically, responsiveness to the public.

During her five terms in Congress, Northup was a strong supporter of the U.S. manufacturing economy. Her voting record on “Key Votes” as identified by the National Association of Manufacturing’s Key Vote Committee was always between 90 and 100 percent, and she received the NAM’s Award for Manufacturing Legislative Excellence. (Voting record summary.) So Northup appreciates what it takes to create a strong economy.

It’s also safe to identify her as being endorsed by the Senate Republican Leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. Presidents defer to the Senate leaders and home-state Senators when selecting political appointees from the minority party.

If there’s any heartburn at all here, it’s that President Obama has chosen to follow the political model when making appointees to this regulatory agency. That’s the approach where the executive rewards party loyalists, often defeated candidates for public office. CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum ran and lost a U.S. Senate race in South Carolina; Northup lost her race for governor of Kentucky. (Adler, it should be noted, was a longtime CPSC staffer.)

The other approach is to appoint experts or people with experience in the regulated subject matter to a regulatory agency. In this model, the regulatory agency is led by people who strive to be impartial arbiters, making decisions purely on evidence, science and the Congressional intent behind the law.

The political model’s strength is that the appointees may be more sensitive to the impact their regulatory decisions have on the public. Tenenbaum, a former state education superintendent, and Northup are both experienced in listening and responding to constituents.

The downside is the appointees often defer to the members of Congress, especially the heads of the committees of jurisdiction and the appropriators. It’s not unusual for staff members of regulatory agencies to grouse that, “Oh, Chairman X has gone up to the Hill to get his marching orders.”

Politics have not served the public, consumers or manufacturers in the drafting and enactment of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. As we have detailed in scores CPSC Update posts, the law has made safe products illegal, deprived consumers of desired products, and put people out of business. The economic costs amount of hundreds of thousands millions of dollars, yet the committee members in charge have dismissed the protests as whining or the pleas of greedy business people.

As a regulatory agency, a CSPC that defers to partisan politics, Congressional dictates and the zealousness of “consumer activists” will NOT be serving the public.

CPSIA Update: First Order of Business for CPSC Nominees

By | Economy, Regulations | No Comments

A statement just released by John Engler, president of the National Association of Manufacturers:

The NAM commends President Obama’s nominations of Inez Moore Tenenbaum to chair the CPSC and Robert S. Adler as a new Commissioner and welcomes the President’s proposals to increase the agency’s budget.

Manufacturers encourage swift action on the nominations so the CPSC can sharpen its focus on improving safety and protecting children. The first order of business should be to fix the problems with the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). The new law’s overly-broad reach is causing unintended harm to consumers and businesses alike and has jeopardized the agency’s ability to meet critical safety priorities.

We hope the new chairwoman and her team will move quickly to fix the flaws in the CPSIA and stop the marketplace chaos that threatens the economy and jobs.


CPSIA Update: More on the President’s CPSC Nominees

By | Briefly Legal, Regulations | One Comment

President Obama’s statement on announcing two nominees to the Consumer Product Safety Commission:

It is a top priority of my administration to ensure that the products the American people depend on are safe. We must do more to protect the American public – especially our nation’s children – from being harmed by unsafe products. I am confident that Inez and Bob have the commitment and expertise necessary to fill these roles and raise the standard of safety. To ensure these goals are met, I will also increase the number of Commissioners at the CPSC. I am confident this new leadership at the CPSC will revitalize the agency and achieve the high standard of product safety that the American people deserve.

Inez is Inez Moore Tenenbaum, a former South Carolina superintendent of education and U.S. Senate candidate, who serve as chairman if confirmed. Bob is Robert Adler, a law professor at the University of North Carolina, who will fill one of two new seats being added to the now three-member commission. More details from the bios:

  • She previously practiced health, environmental, and public interest law with the firm Sinkler & Boyd.
  • Before joining the UNC faculty, Adler served as Counsel on the Committee on Energy and Commerce where he advised on CPSC legislative and oversight issues under the leadership of Henry Waxman.

Adler had also been as an attorney-advisor to two commissioners at the CPSC in Washington, D.C.  from 1973-84, so he’s definitely an old hand at these issues. And we say that as a compliment!

P.S. Yes, it would have been asking too much for anyone to expect the President to say, “And I look forward to these new commissioners helping to bring into effect the new, improved version of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act I will ask to Congress to pass. The current law has caused many unnecessary hardships to business and consumers, and I believe it must be changed.”