03.06.08

The Vitter Amendment #4097 To The “CPSC Reform Act”

Senator Vitter has submitted an amendment to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Reform Act that would discourage State Attorneys General from bringing enforcement actions against those who violate consumer product safety regulations.  This amendment goes even further than the Cornyn amendment that we voted on last night to gut the enforcement provisions in the bill.  The Pryor-Stevens legislation wisely gives State Attorneys General the power to protect their citizens from harmful products by pursuing such litigation.  We should not gut that important enforcement power by adding a threat that could shift enforcement costs to taxpayers.

Senator Vitter’s amendment would allow the prevailing party in a civil action to recover costs and attorneys fees.  This means that the taxpayers would bear the costs and attorney fees of corporations sued by a State Attorney General if the suit is unsuccessful.  Absent evidence that State Attorneys General are pursuing frivolous litigation against corporations, this amendment is not only unnecessary, but it presents a departure from our established legal system.  The measure would have a chilling effect on State Attorneys General who would like to pursue possible violations of consumer product safety regulations, but may fear incurring the legal costs of doing so. 

The purpose of the CPSC Reform Act is to ensure that American consumers have access to the safest products.  By allowing State Attorneys General to bring enforcement actions against corporations who violate consumer safety laws, States are able to pursue those who threaten the safety of consumers, even when Federal regulators fail to do so.  However, Senator Vitter’s amendment would tie the hands of State Attorneys General by making them choose between enforcing the law and potentially burdening the taxpayers with corporations’ legal fees, or doing nothing when faced with products that have the potential to harm consumers. 

I will oppose this amendment because it discourages enforcement of consumer product safety measures. 

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