Five years ago today, President Bush signed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act into law, marking an important victory in my year-long fight for legislation to stop the the flow of dangerous toys and products onto our shelves and into our homes.
It is a day I will always remember, because with that swipe of a pen, our nation became a safer place for our children and families to live and play. I discovered as chairman of the Consumer Protection Subcommittee in 2007 that our import inspection program had atrophied in recent years, and dangerous toys coated in lead and filled with toxins like kerosene were filling our toy boxes and harming our children. Everyday toys were killing thousands of kids because of a lax inspection program.
A recent report from the Consumer Protection Safety Commission said that toy recalls and toy-related fatalities have seen “a dramatic decline since 2008.” Nationwide in 2007, 33.6 million Americans were injured by everyday products.
That’s why I pushed for sweeping reforms to the Consumer Protection Safety Commission, giving it the resources needed to implement a safety certification process, inspect imported children’s toys, enforce safety requirements and streamline the recall process. This legislation also increased penalties, disclosure and accountability for companies and individuals that skirt product safety laws.
The Wall Street Journal called the legislation, “The biggest overhaul of U.S. product-safety rules in a generation…”
Consumer protection is about the safety of our families, which is not something I take lightly. We should not have to worry about the safety of our children as they play in our homes with the toys they cherish.
Budget restraints had crippled the Consumer Product Safety Commission while thousands of new products were flooding the marketplace in 2007. It was another example of the impact of cuts to vital programs at the expense of our families and children. Those come at a price too high to pay. In the summer of 2008, the majority of my colleagues in Congress agreed with me, pushing the measure to restore funding and staffing to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
When President Bush signed this important legislation into law on Aug. 14, 2008, it was a victory for America. It increased the fine for aggregate violations of consumer protection laws by companies from $1.25 million to $15 million. Criminal penalties increased as well. And the mandatory testing and certification requirements have already made a big difference.
Because of this law, our nation has seen fewer illnesses and fatalities caused by dangerous toys. It provided the Consumer Product Safety Commission and parents alike the tools they need to protect children from harmful products by keeping them out of our homes and off our shelves. I was proud to champion this bill for our families, our state and our nation.