The Democrats' stonewall over the Waxman CPSIA Amendment continues unabated after the April 29th hearing. Do you think they were humming loudly while I gave testimony???
Anyhow, I am in possession of a memo from the House Republicans (led by Rep. Joe Barton, R-TX) discussing the state of the CPSIA "negotiation", such as it is:
"[Here] is the list of 'targeted areas' we sent last Tuesday [to Waxman's staff]. This is by no means a comprehensive list of topics we would like to eventually address, but it is the list of areas in which it may be possible to find compromise and that would greatly expand the sphere of relief to affected businesses of your size. To date, I am unaware of a response."
No response from Waxman. I guess this really isn't a big deal, huh?
At the very same time they are stonewalling progress, the Democrats are taking pains to portray the Republicans as "obstructionist". We have been hearing this for weeks. Recently, the Dems have even sunk to demanding that the victims of the law pressure the Republicans to fall in line. What a sad, sick twist in a very sorry tale. The memo continues:
"I want to emphasize to you how important a legislative fix is for Mr. Barton – he is not being 'obstructionist'. Over the last 18 months we sent numerous letters and verbal requests for a hearing at which people could share how CPSIA impacted their businesses and to hear suggestions on the best way to address the problems created by CPSIA. Those requests were sometimes ignored but always rebuffed until 2 weeks ago. Additionally, Mr. Barton and most of the E&C minority introduced a fix bill in March 2009, which the Majority refused to even discuss, let alone mark up. The Majority finally met with us in January to discuss CPSIA. At that meeting, we discussed those areas we believed needed to be addressed. We were told we had to work within the four corners of their legislative language. We acquiesced in an effort to see something accomplished and proceeded to discuss only ways to improve their proposed language. All of our requests, other than the concept of small business relief (I say 'concept' because we never discussed details, only that such relief would be necessary), were denied."
The Dems' fantastic accusation of Republican obstruction is meant to sucker you into believing that the Dems are your "friend" and the Republicans (notably Mr. Barton) are holding the democratic process hostage. This is certainly untrue on both accounts. The Dems hold a 13-seat majority on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and have demonstrated time and again their ability to pass bills without Republican support (think health care). The Republicans would LOVE IT if they had the capacity to obstruct . . . but they don't. Unless you think the Waxman Amendment and its utter disregard of your pain is some sort of gift, the notion of Dems' as "friend" does not compute.
Barton is out to fix the bill once and for all. Unfortunately, he is being limited in his approach by the even-intransigent Waxman: "Note, lowering the age to 7 years is not in the list below. That is off the negotiation table per the Majority staff, but they are aware this is a key point for our bosses and that they should expect an amendment should we get to markup. Narrowing the scope of this bill is the single most frequently heard recommendation from everyone on the affected spectrum, including some CPSC staff (though obviously not the Chairman). Of course, lowering the age is also the best way we can think of to ensure [small businesses] will find relief – our bosses are just not convinced there any “alternative testing methods” exist, and if there are, how affordable they may be or how quickly the CPSC can move to bless those methods. Further, we are concerned the CPSC is vulnerable to legal challenge if and when it makes such a determination, and without that determination, this bill gives no relief to any 'small batch manufacturer.' . . . I want to point out our main goal here is to make sure any legislative fix actually fixes the problems created with CPSIA. As a matter of principle, our bosses believe that no business should be left out in the cold by this bill." [Emphasis added]
I want to reiterate that there are NO alternative testing methods known to the CPSC that would assure compliance. NONE, ZIPPO, NADA. It's a scam that the Dems persist in propogating. The issue about legal challenge is yet another huge worry for those businesses dependent on REAL relief.
It is a relief to know SOMEONE is concerned to make sure you and I aren't left out in the cold. I think this bold political stance is downright heroic. Having fought basically full-time for 18 months, I have become accustomed to the cold shoulder from Democrats, as though I was some kind of criminal or some other kind of societal scum. Actually, I make educational products with a remarkable record of safety and compliance with law. The support from Barton and the Republicans is literally a godsend.
The Republican list of "asks" is not perfect, but it is practical and has good potential to help. It's not the optimal list, which they acknowledge, but it is a starting point for fixing a terrible law. The list is below for your review.
The Republicans deserve your support. They have also earned my thanks. With people like Joe Barton in the mix, there still is hope of real relief . . . someday. Henry Waxman, where are you?
"· Insert legislative language permitting the CPSC to grant exceptions for entire product categories. Current language permits exception for “a specific product or material” but does not permit the exclusion of an entire category (e.g., science equipment for schools, bikes, motorized recreation vehicles, or brass musical instruments).
· Direct the CPSC to act sua sponte to exclude categories of products based on least risk. E.g., leather saddles, golf clubs, microscopes or other science equipment, children’s ball point pens, musical instruments, etc. Timeline should be no later than the end of FY 2010 due to the February 2011 expiration of the stay on testing and certification. CPSC must also issue a notice of those products it will initially review for such exception.
· If the CPSC reviews a specific product petition and chooses to grant the petition, require the CPSC to grant a product category-wide exclusion unless significant safety concerns exist.
· Remove the ability to provide an expiration date on exclusions. If a product is proven to have no measurable adverse impact, it should be permitted for sale. Manufacturers require certainty for both the initial investment in a petition (estimates range from $25,000 to $50,000 per).
· Permit any “alternative testing” schemes blessed by CPSC to be used by any business. Alternatively, increase the size of businesses defined as “small batch manufacturers” under the bill.
· New standards added to the F-963 toy standard should, as a default, not be subject to [Third Party Testing]. The CPSC should have the discretionary authority to mandate either [Third Party Testing] or alternative testing methods, however.
· Eliminate the first two prongs of the exclusion standard. If an item is proven to have no measurable adverse impact (third prong), it will not matter if the item is designed to be/can be put in a child’s mouth (second prong), or if the item requires lead for a functional purpose (first prong)."