Congress Looks to Boost CPSC Funding above Obama Request

Both the House and the Senate are working to increase the budget of the Consumer Product Safety Commission – the beleaguered federal regulator of everything from toys to toasters.

On July 9, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a spending bill that would give the agency $115 million for FY 2010 – a $9.6 million increase above the current fiscal year. The companion bill in the House, approved July 7 by the House Appropriations Committee, would give CPSC $113.3 million for FY 2010, which begins Oct. 1, 2009.

Both the Senate and House levels are significantly higher than the level President Obama requested in May. Obama only asked for $107 million for CPSC – probably not enough to keep up with inflation.

To make matters worse, a White House press release touting Obama’s commitment to consumer product safety used some creative budget math to paint a rosy picture of the president’s request, as I blogged at the time.

Although the differences between Obama’s request and the current congressional levels are only a few million dollars – chump change for appropriators – the CPSC could use the money. From 1974, when the agency first became fully operational, to 2007, the agency’s budget was cut in half. (See the chart below.) Staffing levels dropped precipitously too. Meanwhile, the industries CPSC regulates have grown, and imported products, often manufactured in countries like China with less aggressive regulators, have increasingly shown up on American shelves.

The results have been well chronicled. Recalls, especially recalls of imported toys contaminated by lead, have drawn headlines over the past three years.

The recent negative attention surrounding CPSC has not gone unnoticed by lawmakers, who voted to increase the agency’s budget in FY 2008 and 2009; but the agency will need a continued commitment if it is to restore its position as a trusted regulator.

CPSC funding is covered under the Financial Services Appropriations bills (S.1432 and H.R. 3170). We’ll keep you updated when those bills are voted on by the full House and the full Senate.

CPSC budget


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