Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Energy & Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce held a legislative hearing on proposed improvements to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), including one bill applauded by manufacturers across the country. H.R. 3169, known as the FASTER Act, would codify and strengthen the “fast-track” recall program, making it easier for companies to issue a voluntary recall if they determine that one of their products is unsafe.
Instituted by the CPSC nearly 25 years ago, the existing fast-track program is intended to provide companies with the ability to quickly recall a product if necessary, eliminating procedural steps like the CPSC staff’s technical evaluation of a product to determine if a defect exists that could harm consumers. That procedure, called a preliminary determination, can take several months. By streamlining the time-consuming review, manufacturers can quickly ensure the safety of consumers when they have already determined that a recall is necessary.
However, the fast track program has frequently been slowed down by bureaucratic Commission obstacles that have delayed even voluntary recalls by months.
“The CPSC’s fast-track program, once an award-winning agency program allowing for swift voluntary recalls, has become hampered by bureaucratic disagreements over non-substantive concerns, such as the wording of press releases and other hold-ups that create unnecessary hurdles to ensuring the safety of products on the market,” said Graham Owens, NAM Director of Legal and Regulatory Policy. “In other words, the program’s signature quality—that of being fast—seems to have been recalled itself.”
The bill Congress is considering would make the agency-created fast-track program permanent, while also clearly laying out how the process should work to prevent red tape from creeping back in. Meanwhile, the Commission would still have the power to make companies go through the long-form recall process on a case-by-case basis if it determines the expedited process was insufficient, ensuring that the Commission continues to hold regulatory authority.
“The FASTER Act would alleviate bureaucratic and non-substantive red tape by codifying the fast-track program into law—and by preventing the commission from delaying the posting of public notices of recall plans,” said Owens. “These simple steps would immediately speed up voluntary recalls to the benefit of consumers, manufacturers, and even the Commission itself.”
After fighting for many years to fix these administrative delays, manufacturers are hopeful that Congress will finally update the fast-track process.
“This hearing is a great start toward ensuring manufacturers are able to voluntarily recall products in an efficient and effective manner,” said Owens. “The FASTER Act, if passed, would improve the agency’s effectiveness in discharging its critical mission, and we commend the Subcommittee for focusing on common sense reforms. Manufacturers stand ready to work with Congress and the CPSC to achieve this laudable goal.”
Manufacturing businesses have long been proponents of equality in the workplace. As legislation to codify protections for LGBT individuals passes through the House of Representatives, the National Association of Manufacturers joined the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Business Roundtable, and other members of the business community in advocating its passage, forging coalitions and providing congressional testimony.
Introduced with bipartisan support in the U.S. House and Senate in March, the Equality Act includes federal protections for individuals based on sexual orientation and gender identity under the existing framework of the Civil Rights Act, which already provides protection against discrimination on the basis of religion, national origin, race, color or sex. The goal of the legislation is to ensure that no person can face legal discrimination based on their gender or sexual orientation, setting a clear federal standard to enable individuals to succeed based on their abilities and qualifications to perform a job.
“Employers understand the importance of creating an environment in which the very best people can succeed based on merit,” Patrick Hedren, NAM vice president, labor, legal and regulatory policy, said. “At the same time, manufacturers know that discrimination in any form is antithetical to the values that we work to uphold every day: equality of opportunity, individual liberty, free enterprise and competitiveness.”
In March, more than 40 other industry associations rallied to support the Equality Act, providing an important boost for the groundbreaking legislation. In the weeks since, manufacturing representatives have testified before the House Education and Labor Committee and signed a coalition letter to the House Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services calling for the Act’s passage. As Congress considers the way forward, manufacturers have made clear that they intend to advocate forcefully on behalf of the legislation and uphold their commitment to workers of every gender identity and sexual orientation.
“The Equality Act creates a clear federal standard that matches the sentiments manufacturers already share: gender identity and sexual orientation have no impact on an employee’s abilities and discrimination is not welcome on the manufacturing floor,” Hedren said. “We look forward to working with Congress as this important legislation moves ahead.”
Washington, D.C. – National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) President and CEO Jay Timmons released the following statement after the Department of Labor (DOL) rescinded the 2016 Persuader Rule:
Manufacturers have fought for this victory for many years in the courts, in Congress and with two administrations, using the full weight of our policy, government relations and legal teams, said Timmons. The NAM’s Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action was able to halt the rule in court in 2016.And in 2017, the Trump administration, as part of its broader regulatory relief agenda, thankfully began the process of unwinding the rule. This overreaching rule threatened to impose serious burdens on manufacturers and upend employee–employer communications. Now manufacturers are relieved that this threat to workplace communications is finally and officially off the books. Commonsense steps like this to rein in onerous regulations are a major reason why manufacturers are reporting record-high business optimism.
The Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action (MCLA) is the leading voice of manufacturers in the courts and engages in a range of activities, including direct party litigation and operating a robust amicus program, as well as educating manufacturers about emerging legal trends. The MCLA is led by NAM Senior Vice President and General Counsel Linda Kelly and NAM Vice President of Litigation and Deputy General Counsel Peter Tolsdorf. More information on the MCLA can be found here.
The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 12 million men and women, contributes $2.25 trillion to the U.S. economy annually, has the largest economic impact of any major sector and accounts for more than three-quarters of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the Manufacturers or to follow us on Shopfloor, Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.