Saturday, August 02, 2008

U.S. Senate passes travel ban for consumer commission officials

The U.S. Senate approved major consumer safety legislation, bolstering the agency in charge of overseeing consumer products and implementing stricter product regulations on July 1.

The bill includes provisions closely mirroring an amendment by Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., along with Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., that would prohibit employees of the Consumer Product Safety Commission from accepting travel paid for by industries regulated by the commission. The travel ban was proposed in 2007 after it came to light that commission staff had accepted thousands of dollars of travel at industry expense.

"The alarming product recalls and revelations that the federal watchdog agency was asleep on the job begged for this type of substantive, bipartisan action," Menendez said. "I am pleased that this bill will prevent officials at the Consumer Product Safety Commission from traveling on the dime of the industry they regulate, which is a change I have championed. These product gatekeepers should look out for one interest and only one: the well-being of the American people. This is toxic travel, and we are putting an end to it."

Menendez introduced the "Restoring Truth in Regulator Travel" Act last November in the wake of revelations of industry-sponsored trips taken by current and former CPSC officials over the course of years. Menendez has also called for the resignation of CPSC officials that have taken part in such travel.

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