U.S. consumer agency cool on more funding

Oct. 30, 2007 at 8:01 AM
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 30 (UPI) -- The acting chief of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is opposed to Democratic congressional attempts to strengthen the Washington agency.

Acting Chairwoman Nancy Nord wrote of her opposition in a letter to the Senate Commerce Committee, The New York Times reported. The bill is sponsored by Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, who heads the committee, and Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., who heads the consumer affairs subcommittee.

The bill would more than double the agency’s budget to $141 million over the next seven years, raise staffing levels by about 20 percent and give the commission broad new oversight powers.

Nord wrote a provision in the bill to ban lead from all toys was impractical and said a proposal to raise potential penalties from $1.8 million to $100 million "may have the undesired consequence of firms, as a precautionary measure, flooding the agency with virtually every consumer complaint and incident," the Times said.

Ellen Bloom, director of federal policy at the Consumers Union advocacy group, said she was shocked by Nord's position.

"It was remarkable to send a letter like that to a committee, when you’re in dire straits and you need increased funding and you’ve acknowledged that," Bloom said to the Times.

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