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Written testimony urging far greater CPSC funding, as sent to House appropriations subcommittee

Consumer Reports, the independent, non-profit member organization, strongly urges you and your colleagues on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government to significantly increase funding for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in FY 2020 and to reject the inclusion of any policy riders that would undermine essential protections for consumers. The CPSC has a critical mission to protect the public from risks associated with consumer products, but its funding and staffing levels are insufficient to carry out the work necessary to fulfill this mission. The scope of work is enormous: for example, the CPSC reviews about 8,000 unintentional product-related death certificates each year, and is aware of at least 16 million emergency department-treated injuries per year associated with—if not necessarily caused by—consumer products. These injuries alone cost society more than $900 billion a year. Accordingly, we urge you to at least double the CPSC’s funding above the FY 2019 enacted level of $127 million.

Established by Congress in 1972, the CPSC is charged with protecting the public from hazards associated with over 15,000 different types of consumer products. Its statutes give the Commission the authority to set mandatory safety standards; participate in voluntary safety standards; require labeling; remove defective products from the shelves and order product recalls and other corrective actions when necessary; collect injury, death, and incident data; and educate the public about consumer product safety.

In 1974, the first full year that the CPSC was operating, Congress appropriated the equivalent of more than $180 million in today’s dollars, accounting for inflation, and 786 FTEs to the agency. CPSC’s staffing levels rose to a high of 978 employees in 1980 before facing severe and repeated cuts during the 1980s. At the time of its FY 2020 budget request, released last week, the CPSC estimates 539 FTEs under current fiscal year funding.

The consumer product market is changing rapidly, and the CPSC must be able to keep pace. If the CPSC continues to be inadequately funded, it will be unable to protect consumers from either longstanding, well understood hazards, or those that are new or emerging.

The CPSC’s budget request for FY 2020 would not allow the agency to maintain the workforce nor the workload needed to sufficiently protect the public. Consumers depend on the CPSC to protect them from unsafe products, and historically, Congress has strongly agreed that the agency should have the resources needed to do so. We urge you to provide the agency with significantly more funding and staffing and oppose efforts to limit, through policy riders, the CPSC’s authority or its activities supporting consumer safety.

We look forward to working with you to ensure that the CPSC receives sufficient funding and staffing to keep the public safe from product hazards and protect consumers from product-related deaths and injuries, many of which can be prevented.

For the full testimony, click here.