Friday, October 30, 2009

CPSIA - NAM Coalition Asks for Senate Hearing on CPSIA

The National Association of Manufacturers led a coalition of 41 trade associations and alliances in requesting a promised Senate hearing on the CPSIA this week. In a letter to Senator Mark Pryor, the coalition asked Senator Pryor to honor his commitment to hold hearings 60 days after confirmation of Ms. Tenenbaum as the new Chairman. The letter states: "The various stays of enforcement issued by CPSC to temporarily resolve CPSIA implementation problems will soon expire, and a permanent resolution is needed. We believe that the Senate's oversight role is extremely important in helping the agency implement common sense solutions to resolve these issues, and we strongly urge you to set a date for a CPSIA oversight hearing."

These hearings, if they come soon, will be the first opportunity for Congress to hear from business owners affected by this law since the law's passage. [I am disregarding last May's staged hearing at the House Small Business Committee that was nothing more than an opportunity for the Democratic leadership to launch yet another missile at the CPSC for not using "common sense".] It is shocking that Congress has dodged this necessary "sunshine" activity. I have always felt it is part of their message control where all problems are blamed on the CPSC, Congress naturally being faultless like any good omnipotent organization. The persistence of this Congressional attitude is exposing the CPSC to embarrassment as it attempts the impossible, sensible implementation of a defective law. The harder it tries, the more it twists itself into a tighter pretzel. Notwithstanding the unfortunate position it is in, the CPSC seems quite reluctant to challenge Congress (or even notify Congress of its own educated view of the matter). Care to guess who is stuck in the middle?

We can only hope that Congress will develop a renewed interest in fact finding, or the CPSC will finally stand up and deliver the unsolicited message that the CPSIA needs to be fixed. While that's hardly kneecapping Congress, I recognize that some members of Congress won't want to hear anything of the kind. Whether you call these changes "fixes", "amendments" or "tweaks", the fact remains that an incoherent, overreaching law governs the land, and its byzantine requirementes are making administration of safety almost as complicated as the tax code. The CPSC needs to educate and guide Congress on the changes necessary to create a robust but workable, effective but sensible regulatory system.

Oh, to dream . . . .

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