The U.S. Congress is expected to reach agreement on legislation that would reform the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) soon. The U.S. House of Representatives and Senate have each passed reauthorization bills that substantially increase funding for the agency, ban lead in children?s products, and increase penalties. Congressional leadership considers the legislation to be a top legislative priority and hopes the House and Senate will finish negotiating a final version of the bill soon.
The CPSC has not been significantly reformed in over 15 years. However, when a huge number of children?s toys ? in large part produced in China ? were recalled during the last holiday season because of lead and other hazards, Congress was spurred into action. On December 19, 2007, the House passed its version of the reform bill, HR 4040, by a vote of 407-0. On March 6, 2008, the Senate rejected the House version, by a vote of 57-39, and, instead, passed its own version of the bill (an amended version of S. 2663) by a vote of 79-13. Although the two versions have many similarities, there are also many important differences that will need to be ironed out. The Senate appointed conferees on April 29, 2008, and the House appointed conferees on May 14, 2008. Congressional leadership had hoped to finish negotiations and pass a conference report before Memorial Day, and send the conference report to the President?s desk for his signature by July 4. Although the Memorial Day deadline was not met, there is still a strong interest in quick passage. In any case, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi wants a final bill enacted before the holiday toy-buying season.
The following is a brief overview of some of the key similarities and differences between the two versions of the bill.
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