John D. Rockefeller, IVSenatorThe Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is the most important line of defense between consumers and dangerous products.Families trust you to keep them safe. Parents look to you to help protect their children from dangerous products.Unfortunately, the CPSC has suffered from years of budget cuts and poor leadership decisions that worked at cross-purposes with its mission.That is why it is so refreshing to have a nominee, at long last, who is committed to reforming and reinvigorating the CPSC to better protect consumers from dangerous products.I firmly believe Ms. Inez Tenenbaum is the right person at the right time to lead.Ms. Tenenbaum’s leadership skills shined bright in South Carolina where, as State Superintendent of Education, she dramatically improved test scores and earned her state school system Education Week’s top rating for academic and accountability standards. You don’t turn around an entire state education system like that without tenacious commitment and leadership skills.Ms. Tenenbaum’s legal background and work for the South Carolina legislature in the areas of public health and child welfare also have prepared her well for this job. She understands that when the health and safety of adults and children are at risk, you take action – and you never let the agency drag its feet with studies, delays, and half-measures.I look forward to working with Ms. Tenenbaum as she leads the CPSC to implement the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act we passed last year.Every American – and especially kids – will rely on her to implement the Act in the most effective manner possible.I hear the staff at the CPSC has been reinvigorated now that the agency will again have the tools to carry out its basic mission – and a great leader in Ms. Tenenbaum to guide the way.Ms. Tenenbaum will carry a heavy burden at the CPSC. Myself – and the entire nation – are grateful for her commitment to this great public service.She is a fighter for what’s right and in this consumer-focused committee, that is the highest of compliments.###
Kay Bailey HutchisonSenator
STATEMENT OF HON. KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON,
COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE AND TRANSPORTATION
JUNE 16, 2009
Thank you, Chairman Rockefeller, for holding this morning’s hearing. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has the daunting task of keeping the public safe through oversight of more than 15,000 consumer products. For years, the CPSC was operating with a dwindling staff, outdated equipment and very little money, while its workload grew.
So last year, Congress worked very hard to pass a reauthorization – the first reauthorization for the agency in years – which provides significantly more money and a number of mandates that I understand that Commission has been working diligently to execute.
Overall, last year’s law is a good one, and it makes many improvements to the agency. As with most new programs, though, there are a few glitches that need to be worked out. While we worked very hard to write a good bill and had the best of intentions, we knew it was not perfect, and unintended consequences of the law have since surfaced.
There has been a difference of opinion about the intent of some of the language; what authority and how much flexibility is provided to the Commission by the law, and who has the responsibility to fix what is broken.
Expanding the Commission to its full quorum is a good first step toward a solution, and an important one, but I think this Committee also needs to hold a hearing to discuss implementation of the law and identify significant problems so we can find a solution that will not inflict further harm on the industries and businesses, including small businesses and home crafters, that are already suffering during these tough economic times.
Everyone can agree that we want to protect consumers, and especially children, from harmful products, but an unreasonable law will only be counterproductive.
Besides implementation of the CPSIA, there are numerous other challenges currently facing the Commission. Even with the extra resources, the CPSC is still a small agency handling an incredible amount of work, and it is a balancing act to keep up with the requirements of last year’s law while still focusing on and remaining alert to possible hazards that may make their way into the stream of commerce.
I welcome Ms. Tenenbaum this morning. She has an impressive history, serving two terms as South Carolina’s State Superintendent of Education.
We had a productive meeting last week and I was reassured to hear that she understands the constraints of the new law. It will be crucial for the CPSC to work closely and openly with the Senate, and vice versa, as we move forward.
I look forward to a constructive conversation here today and although this is not the appropriate forum to resolve our differences, it provides an excellent opportunity for everyone on the Committee to express their opinions and voice concerns.
Ms. Inez TenenbaumChairman/Commissioner - DesignateU.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission