On February 10, Congress enacted the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), wreaking havoc on sellers of children’s goods such as bookstores and thrift stores. Some sellers couldn’t comply with the lead testing requirements mandated in the law, so they offloaded up to a billion dollars worth of merchandise – into the dumpster.
In response, four Democratic legislators asked President Obama to seek the resignation of the Consumer Product Safety Commissioner. Why? Because in response to the uproar, Commissioner Nancy Nord told angry business owners to “call their congressional members and ask for relief from compliance with CPSIA.” In other words, she thought the best way to comply was to ask for an exception to the law and not comply at all.
That didn’t sit well with the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection, or the other three Democratic legislators who penned the call for Nord’s resignation.
The Commission, not the Congress, is responsible for interpreting and carrying out the provisions of the CPSIA.
The legislators then detailed a list of grievances against Nord and her Commission, including past allegations of inappropriate travel – from November of 2007 - and her inability to enact regulation in a timely manner, despite unrealistic turnaround times mandated by Congress. Nord responded on January 30 of this year:
The retroactive nature of the law does pose serious problems for thrift stores and charities who now must decide whether they can continue to sell children’s clothing, tricycles, bikes and similar products. This problem is real and will not go away by “education and outreach”…we are finding that there are problems and issues that were not discussed, and, presumably, not contemplated, by the Congress.