Tuesday, May 4, 2010

CPSIA - Waxman Amendment Update

We were lured to Washington last week by the promise of a hearing to air corporate grievances over the CPSIA. This hearing was a result of a demand by Ranking Member Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) and supported by Former Committee Chairman Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) in a meeting with Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. The Republicans had been asking for this hearing for more than a year. How time flies when you are having fun!

Henry Waxman kicked things off with introductory remarks that included these words: "The draft [amendment] . . . . is not a perfect solution, and it does not represent complete fulfillment of anyone’s wish list. As our witnesses will testify, however, it is a fair and reasoned measure that would grant significant and meaningful relief to many stakeholders while still protecting our children from dangerous products. The text of this draft is not set in stone, and we look forward to any and all constructive input that will be offered today." [Emphasis added]

Hearing Mr. Waxman signal genuine flexibility, I experienced a rush of optimism. Certainly we must be reaching a critical juncture in this long drama, I thought.

Yeah, a real breakthrough. . . . Apparently, as soon as the hearing ended and all that "constructive input" had been digested, the Waxman staff held a conference call with the ATV'rs, NAM and RILA (Wal-Mart and Target's organization) to inform them that to get the Waxman Amendment to the floor, they must urgently pressure the Republicans to support the Waxman Amendment without introducing any amendments. Yes, these influential organizations were told to become foot soldiers in the Waxman army to get the job done. Bad Republicans, don't you know how to be bipartisan!

That was late last Thursday. Today, Tuesday, the bill is apparently fading. The sturm und drang of the legislation right now has the Democrats backing away from it, accusing the Republicans of refusing to act bipartisanly (is that even a word?). Let me translate this new use of the word - "bipartisan" in this case is when Republicans vote unanimously to support a take-it-or-leave-it bill drafted by Democrats without negotiating or offering amendments to any terms.

What did Michael Corleone say in The Godfather? "I'll make him an offer he can't refuse." He was VERY "bipartisan".

The Dems apparently fear the introduction of amendments by Republicans at a mark-up. They fear the amendments SO MUCH that they would be willing to pull the bill to avoid them. Is this because they are such believers in "bipartisan government" that any possibility of political disagreement is shattering and demoralizing? Or instead . . . could they be afraid that Republican amendments might find favor among DEMOCRATS who are uncomfortable with the CPSIA in its current form as they head into the election season? And then who would control the legislative process and the CPSIA message?


Good thing the text of the Dems' amendment of the CPSIA "is not set in stone". All that's set in stone is their approach.

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