Rep. Markey Says Consumer Product Safety Commission Sounds Like ‘The Little Agency That Couldn’t’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Edward J. Markey (D-MA), a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, today questioned the acting chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Nancy Nord, about the government’s efforts to protect children from lead-tainted imports. The hearing of the Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection Subcommittee was spurred by recent recalls of thousands of toys made in China.

Rep. Markey said, “The situation at the Consumer Product Safety Commission reminds me of the beloved children’s story ‘The Little Engine That Could,’ but in the CPSC’s case, unfortunately, it’s ‘The Little Agency That Couldn’t.’ The CPSC can’t ensure that our children are safe from harmful substances like lead in toys. The agency’s failures are not the result of poor performance by CPSC’s dedicated employees – they are diligent and hardworking. But the Bush administration has starved the agency of the funding, staff and technology it needs to perform its important work, putting the agency in an impossible situation. The challenge it faces is just too steep for such an undersized, under-resourced agency.”

The challenges faced by the CPSC under the Bush administration include:

• Only 401 full-time staff positions, a 16 percent cut during the Bush Administration;
• A budget of only $62 million;; and
• An outdated and under-staffed toy testing laboratory.

In response to a question from Rep. Markey during today’s hearing, CPSC Commissioner Thomas Moore acknowledged that the CPSC needs at least 400 more staff to fulfill its mission. Chairman Nord acknowledged in the budget request she sent to Congress in February on behalf of the CPSC that the allotted budget will result in 19 fewer staff at the CPSC, in addition to a decrease of 31 staff in 2006 and 20 staff in 2007.

It is past time for the CPSC to be given the resources it deserves and needs. While the CPSC struggles with lack of authority and resources, American children are left unprotected, falling through a regulatory black hole. This is unacceptable, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to enhance the authority and increase the resources of this vital consumer protection agency,” concluded Rep. Markey.


September 19, 2007

CONTACT: Jessica Schafer, 202.225.2836