Congressman Bobby Rush

Representing the 1st District of Illinois

Rep. Rush's Hearing Underscores Importance of Consumer Product Safety Reviews Effectiveness of Consumer Product Safety Commission Explored in Light of Recent Child Deaths Rush Pledges Commission Reform Package

May 17, 2007
Press Release

Washington, D.C. A hearing held by Energy and Commerce Subcommittee Chairman Bobby L. Rush (D-IL) yesterday revealed serious shortcomings in the country’s consumer product review system.

 “It is unfortunate that the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reportedly failed to do its job to protect this young child. The CPSC must respond immediately to warnings and complaints in an effective and efficient manner,” said Rep. Rush, chairman of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection.
 “If the federal government cannot deliver on this basic responsibility to help parents keep their children away from avoidable hazards, then we are not doing our job. As chairman of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection, I intend to do all I can to solve this terrible problem,” he added.
The roughly four-hour hearing examined the authority and budget of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), one of the smallest government agencies.  Witnesses shared stories of children who had been severely injured or killed due to products that had not been properly reviewed, or that had not been recalled quickly enough. 
 Rep. Rush (D-IL) cited a recent Chicago Tribune story that reported on the death of Kenny Sweet, Jr., a three-year-old who died after swallowing powerful magnets that fell out of a toy.  “What I want to take away from this hearing—what I want to understand—is why it took the Chicago Tribune to do a thorough, investigative story on Magnetix to finally get this product off the shelves,” said Rush.  
 Nancy Nord, Acting Chairman of CPSC, acknowledged that the Commission needs additional funding and staff in order to function properly. “Specific product issues, like small magnets in toys, which have been recently highlighted by the media, indicate how great a challenge we continue to face,” she said during her testimony to the Committee. “With a total nationwide staff of just over 400, and an annual budget of just over $60 million, we simply cannot be at all places at all times.”
 Alan Korn, policy director of Safe Kids Worldwide, testified that more children aged 14 and younger die from unintentional injuries than from all childhood diseases combined.  Several related bills are pending in the 110th Congress, including bills that address pool safety, amusement park rides, nursery furniture and gasoline burns. 
After the hearing, Chairman Rush pledged to undertake a thorough review of CPSC’s operating statutes and issue a comprehensive reform package.