- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 31, 2007


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi yesterday called for the resignation of the head of the Consumer Product Safety Commission following the recall of millions of Chinese-made toys.

Nancy Nord, the agency’s acting head, has been under fire in Congress for opposing Democrats’ legislation to overhaul her agency.

“Any commission chair who does not, in the face of the facts that are so clear, say we don’t need any more authority or any more resources to do our job, does not understand the gravity of the situation,” said Mrs. Pelosi, who has been joined in her call for Ms. Nord’s resignation by other Democrats in the House and Senate. “I call on the president of the United States to ask for the resignation.”

Ms. Nord, in an Oct. 24 letter to the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, said a Democratic bill doubling the agency’s funding and giving it greater authority to inspect and recall products “could have the unintended consequence of hampering, rather than furthering, consumer product safety.”

The White House also opposes the legislation passed unanimously by the committee yesterday.

“We have serious concerns with a number of provisions in the legislation,” said Allan Hubbard, director of the National Economic Council and assistant to the president for economic policy.

Despite the opposition, the committee sent legislation to the full Senate that would increase the number of workers at the agency to at least 500 by 2013, modernize its testing facilities and increase the number of safety inspectors at U.S. ports.

The Consumer Products Safety Commission was founded in 1973 with a staff of almost 800. It now employs about half that number, while the importation of products from other countries has vastly increased.

Democrats say the limited resources given to the agency has made the products used by Americans less safe.

Under the bill, the agency’s budget would increase to $80 million in 2009 and increase 10 percent each year after that.

“It is very clear to me, as well as millions of moms and dads around the country, that the CPSC is failing to keep dangerous toys and products out of the marketplace,” said Sen. Mark Pryor, Arkansas Democrat, who co-sponsored the legislation with Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, Hawaii Democrat.

More than 21 million toys made in China — from Baby Einstein Discover & Play Color Blocks from Kids II Inc. to Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway by RC2 Corp. — have been recalled because of excessive levels of lead paint, tiny magnets that could be swallowed or other potentially serious problems.

Lead is toxic if ingested by youngsters.

Mrs. Pelosi was joined in the call for Ms. Nord’s resignation by Sen. Sherrod Brown, Ohio Democrat, and Reps. Bobby Rush L., Illinois Democrat, and Rosa DeLauro, Connecticut Democrat.

Ms. Nord and the White House say they are not against modernizing and expanding the agency, but several parts of the Democrats’ legislation worry them.

“We want to work with Congress on a collaborative effort in order to help modernize and improve the CPSC,” White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said. “This wasn’t about the price tag, this was about a couple of the policies that are within a particular bill.”

Under the bill, civil fines would be increased up to $250,000 per violation with a cap at $100 million, and criminal penalties would be increased criminal penalties to five years in jail for those who knowingly and willingly violate product safety laws. Whistleblowers reporting hazardous products from inside companies would get additional protection and state attorneys general would be allowed to sue to enforce product safety laws.

“Many of our existing public safety activities would have to be severely curtailed or would cease entirely in order to attempt to fulfill all of the bill’s proposed statutory directives,” Ms. Nord said in the letter to the committee.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide