The Washington Post reports this morning that House Republicans are attempting to kill the new, publicly-available Consumer Product Safety Commission product safety database by cutting off its funding. The Post explains that
As part of the spending bill that passed the House on Feb. 19, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) won support for a measure to withhold money to implement the system, which is set to launch March 11. The database, which was welcomed by consumer advocates, would make public thousands of complaints received by the Consumer Product Safety Commission each year about safety problems with products, from table lamps to baby strollers.
Manufacturers claim that the database will be "filled with inaccurate or fictitious claims," but that assertion seems baseless:
CPSC officials say they have built in safeguards to prevent such abuse and have balanced the interests of consumers and manufacturers. The agency had a "soft launch" of the database [earlier this month] and, of the 900 complaints that were logged, four were determined to be inaccurate, [CPSC Chair Inez] Tenenbaum [pictured above] testified before Congress this month.
There's a reason why 2008 reform legislation sought to make safety information public. Under the prior law . . .
The CPSC collects reports of defective products from a wide range of sources, including consumers, health-care providers, death certificates and media accounts. But most of that information is shielded from public view. The only way for consumers to access safety complaints is to file a public-records request with the CPSC. The agency is then required by law to consult with the manufacturer before releasing information about products, and the company can protest or sue to stop disclosure. If the agency thinks a dangerous product should be pulled from the market, it must negotiate a recall with the manufacturer, a process that used to take years and now takes weeks or months. Meanwhile, unwitting shoppers may continue to buy the item.