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WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke on the House Floor this afternoon in support of the Toxic Substance Control Modernization Act, a bill to modernize outdated legislation to protect Americans from harmful toxic substances. Below is a transcript of his remarks:
Click here for a link to the video.
“I rise in support of this legislation, which is the product of much negotiation, which is an understatement, I think, and an effort to find consensus.
“Congress first enacted the Toxic Substance Control Act 40 years ago to protect Americans from the risk posed by chemicals in commerce. It has not been reauthorized since. Since its original enactment, the law has become outdated and efforts to modernize it have been ongoing for several years with great difficulty. Under current law, it's become harder for the EPA to ban even substances that are known to cause cancer, such as asbestos.
“The bill before us today is a breakthrough after a significant amount of work. It represents a compromise that, while not perfect, as everyone has noted, is a great improvement over current law, and it will help the EPA protect Americans from harmful toxic substances and safeguard our environment. This bill will require the EPA to evaluate both existing and new chemical substances against the new risk-based scientific safety standard that includes specific considerations for populations more vulnerable to chemical exposure, such as children, seniors, and pregnant women.
“It also ensures that the EPA can order testing immediately for substances suspected of placing Americans at risk. This bill improves public transparency of chemical information and provides for clear and enforceable deadlines to review prioritized chemicals and to take action to mitigate any identified risks.
“In short, this is a bill that reflects the kind of compromise across the aisle that we ought to be seeing more of in this House. It is fittingly named after Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, who spent his career working to make this law more functional.
“I want to first thank the person who, in my office, worked far harder than I did – I just took her phone calls and talked to Mr. [Frank] Pallone and talked to Mr. [John] Shimkus from time to time – but Mary Frances Repko, one of the hardest working staff members. And Mary Frances, I want to thank you for the work you did to get us to where we are. It's not perfect, as you and I agree, but it is a bill that will be better than what we have.
“I want to thank, of course, Ranking Member Pallone; my dear friend, Chairman [Fred] Upton; my friend John Shimkus, the Chairman of the [Subcommittee]. Mr. [Paul] Tonko who is not for this, he worked hard to get it to this place. He didn't get here [in supporting], but he worked hard on that effort.
“Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to support this legislation. It is a work product that has been sincerely achieved by people of good will and it is judged by the President of the United States and the Administration and by the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency as a significant and important step forward.
“That's a good deal for the American people, and I yield back the balance of my time.”