This vote was on an attempt to table (or kill) an amendment offered to a bill that would overhaul the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The amendment would replace the underlying bill with the text of bill passed by the House that is considered friendlier to manufacturers.
The Senate bill would raise funding for the CPSC, bolster its staff, mandate certain toy safety standards for the first time ever, ban the use of lead in children’s products and allow the CPSC to levy up to $20 million in penalties on companies that sell defective products. The bill was drafted in response to rising concerns over defective and sometimes harmful toys that are sold in the United States, many of which are from China where quality control is poor.
The underlying bill also contains protections for whistleblowers, would mandate a new public database of dangerous products and would allow states’ attorneys general to litigate complaints independently. The amendment in question, offered by Jim DeMint, R-S.C., does not include any of these items.
Mark Pryor, D-Ark., who moved to have DeMint’s amendment tabled, said the amendment would weaken the underlying bill. “We can do better than that. We can be stronger. In fact, I have talked with several House Members who like what we are able to do in the Senate version. The DeMint amendment puts us where the House is, and we need to have the Senate’s stamp on this legislation so we can go back home and tell the people what we are doing for them,” Pryor said.
DeMint said he supports the overall goals of the bill and agreed that there have been an alarming number of product recalls, particularly for children’s’ items. But he said some sections of the underlying bill go too far and would make it difficult for U.S. manufacturers to do business in an increasingly competitive global marketplace.
“Folks, it is hard enough to do business in this country today. It seems everything we do in this Congress makes it more expensive and more difficult for our companies to compete in a global economy,” DeMint said. “We need to realize, as we seek consumer product safety, particularly safety for children, we do not need to put unnecessary burdens on our companies and make it more difficult for them to operate in this country.”
By a vote of 57-39, the Senate killed DeMint’s amendment. All but nine Republicans present voted against killing the amendment. Every Democrat present voted to kill the amendment. The end result was that the amendment was killed and debate continued on the underlying bill.