WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., ranking member of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security, along with Reps. Cathy McMorris Rogers, R-Wash., ranking member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., ranking member of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce, sent a letter to Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Acting Chairman Robert Adler asking for a full accounting of the $50 million appropriated to the agency in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 for enhanced port surveillance and screening of consumer products for potential safety standard violations.
Letter to Acting Chairman Adler:
This month, Congress passed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Section 7401 of the Act provides $50 million to the CPSC to carry out activities to protect consumers from risks associated with products that violate safety standards, with a particular focus on products whose risks may have increased because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the primary purposes of this new funding are enhancing targeting, surveillance, and screening of consumer products entering the United States at ports of entry and carrying out requirements in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 to restore and strengthen this capability.
It is no coincidence that Congress has directed CPSC to address shortfalls in port surveillance during the COVID-19 pandemic in two major legislative packages just months apart. There are reports that CPSC personnel were completely absent from ports of entry for a period of months after the pandemic began last year. This is deeply troubling because it is likely that dangerous products entered the country during this period of lax oversight. The Commission must now restore and strengthen port surveillance and mitigate the risks posed by having these dangerous products in commerce throughout the United States.
CPSC must keep Congress fully informed about the Commission’s progress in meeting these dual responsibilities. Congress must have assurance that the Commission is using these new funds for their intended purpose. For these reasons, we request that you provide to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and the House Committee on Energy and Commerce a full accounting of how CPSC has expended any of the $50 million appropriated by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 at the end of each fiscal year during which any of such funds were expended.
Click here to read the full letter.
On March 9th, Congress passed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which provided $50 million to the CPSC to protect consumers from products whose risks have potentially increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. Restoring and enhancing CPSC’s port surveillance capabilities to make up for last year’s shortfall is a key part of this effort. Congress also included language prioritizing this in the Consolidated Appropriations Act for FY 2021.