With just a couple days left in 2010, a desolate year of long frustration, the new Congress is already stirring on the CPSIA front. On Thursday, January 6th, the Republican staff of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce is hosting a bipartisan working group session on proposed fixes to the CPSIA. I will be attending, as will representatives of many interested stakeholder groups. It is my understanding that the Democrats have been invited as have some of their consumer advocate group allies.
It is worth noting that this meeting will be held in broad daylight with both sides at the same table. It appears that the Republicans are making a statement about changes in legislative process as well as changes in law. I think it's high time that the legislative process emerge from the shadows and commend them for their approach.
It is also quite noteworthy that this meeting will take place on the FIRST day of the new Congress. The swearing-in ceremonies will take place on Jan. 5th in the afternoon. The next day the Energy and Commerce committee staff begin work on the CPSIA. You have to be impressed at the speed and seriousness that the Republicans are attempting to address this issue. Who says our government is broken?
The politics in Washington changed a lot at the midterm elections. Not only has the House changed hands, so the Waxman era ended, but elsewhere things are changing, too. In the Senate, perhaps a dozen Democratic Senators are facing reelection in this cycle and the Tea Party is still a major force. What will the likes of Mark Pryor think about their chances when their compadres (like Blanche Lincoln) have been so recently vanquished? Perhaps that will motivate a shift in approach. Will the Senate stiffen if a Republican House sends in a fair amendment of the CPSIA? The winds may finally be at our backs.
And then there's the White House. It's anybody's guess what's going on there, but there is reason to believe Mr. Obama is tacking toward the center. This is Clintonesque, a la 1994, and may be a trend that holds up. He has some tough choices to make, but the center may be a better place for him now. That suggests a greater willingness to cooperate with a bipartisan retooling of this law.
If Obama hugs the center line and if the Senate is feeling less unrelentingly liberal facing reelection in the Tea Party era, a serious amendment of this law is possible. It is even possible that these wave lengths will penetrate the CSPC Commission and all sorts of behaviors could change. O to dream . . . .
And we need the help, guys. The 15 Month Rule is a crisis waiting to happen, the testing and certification stay is due to expire on February 10 (in the middle of the Chinese New Year) and of course, there's the 100 ppm lead standard looming in August. There's a lot to address. Let's hope this can move along quickly and put an end to this sorry chapter in our regulatory history.