WASHINGTON (AFP) — Top Democratic lawmakers demanded Tuesday the resignation of the US consumer product safety chief and unveiled plans for stiffer enforcement laws after Halloween toys became the latest tainted made-in-China goods to be recalled.
Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi led her colleagues from the Democratic Party in calling on Nancy Nord, the chairwoman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), to quit amid more discoveries of tainted toys.
“I call on the president of the United States to ask for the resignation,” Pelosi told a news conference at Capitol Hill with other lawmakers by her side.
To drive home her message, she displayed a collection of tainted toys and particularly waved a colorful top, whose lead content was found to be 200 times higher than permitted under law.
Also Tuesday, the CPSC came under fire in a expert report for lack of staff — it has only one full-time toy tester — and capability in examining imported items.
Nord, an appointee of President George W. Bush, has stood firm against proposed legislation seeking to increase the agency’s authority and staff, double its budget and increase the maximum penalties for safety violations.
Her stand was largely in line with the broadly deregulatory approach of the Bush administration.
Okay, kids say it with me–the head of a government agency who doesn’t want more money and more staff?
From The New York Times:
WASHINGTON, Oct. 30 — Over the objections of the Bush administration, a Senate committee unanimously adopted sweeping legislation on Tuesday that would extend the authority of the Consumer Product Safety Commission and sharply increase its budget and staff.
House and Senate Democrats also called for the resignation of the acting chairwoman of the agency, Nancy A. Nord, criticizing her for raising many of the same objections to the legislation that have been made by the manufacturers the agency regulates.
The bill would increase the maximum penalties for safety violations and make it easier for the government to make public reports of faulty products, protect industry whistle-blowers and prosecute executives of companies that willfully violate safety laws. It would ban lead in toys and give state prosecutors the authority to enforce federal consumer safety rules. Ms. Nord has objected to those and other provisions in the measure.
The measure was sponsored by Senator Daniel K. Inouye, the Democrat of Hawaii who heads the committee, and Senator Mark Pryor, the Democrat of Arkansas who heads the consumer affairs subcommittee.
The handful of Republicans who attended the Senate committee session on the bill Tuesday afternoon sat silently as the Democrats moved to adopt the measure. A coalition of business trade groups is hoping that its allies, particularly among the Republicans, will derail the measure as it heads to the Senate floor. Lawmakers in the House said they were preparing to consider similar legislation.
But, but, but, Nancy Nord, why would you object to having more staff to check toys that are poisoning innocent children? Oh! Here’s why:
Ms. Nord, a former lawyer at Eastman Kodak and a former official at the United States Chamber of Commerce, recently sent lawmakers letters attacking the legislation as unworkable and counterproductive, mirroring concerns raised by manufacturers. Those complaints have been rebutted by the agency’s Democratic commissioner, Thomas H. Moore, who generally supports the Senate bill.
Julie Vallese, a spokeswoman for Ms. Nord, said Ms. Nord did not have plans to resign.
Emily Lawrimore, a White House spokeswoman, said the president continued to support Ms. Nord.
Hey, Nancy! Don’t worry. If you ever lose your job over at the CPSC, maybe there is some room for you over at Health and Human Services, where you can deny kids SCHIP and kill them that way!
In the meantime, Nancy, Happy Halloween!