CPSC Head Says She Won’t Step Aside, Despite Criticism Over Toy Recalls

Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) Chair Nancy Nord said she won’t resign her position, despite calls from several member of Congress that she step down. Nord and her agency have been under fire in recent months after a series of highly publicized toy recalls led to questions about the way the CPSC polices consumer products. Now, some Democrats in Congress want Nord out because of her opposition to recently proposed CPSC reforms.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is just one lawmaker calling for Nord’s resignation. Pelosi recently criticized a letter Nord wrote to Congress in which she voiced her opposition to an overhaul of the CPSC, including proposals that would double the cash-strapped agency’s funding. The proposal would also increase CPSC staff, and improve product testing facilities. Finally, the CPSC would be given more authority to order recalls and fine companies that put dangerous products on the market. In her letter, Nord complained that some aspects of the additional responsibilities placed on the CPSC would be too much of a burden for the agency.

Yesterday, at a news conference, Pelosi strongly criticized Nord’s stance. “Any commission chair who does not, in the face of the facts that are so clear, say we don’t need any more authority or any more resources to do our job, does not understand the gravity of the situation,” Pelosi said. She and other Democratic lawmakers have asked the President to seek Nord’s resignation.

This year, a string of recalls for toys and other products have shined a spotlight on what some say is an ineffective CPSC. Some of the recalls have involved lead-tainted children’s toys, dangerous magnetic play sets, cribs that became death traps, and dangerous baby seats. In many instances, the CPSC waited until several children were injured, and even killed, before it acted on reports that a product could be dangerous. Too often, the CPSC relies on the manufacturers of defective products to handle safety issues, and that rarely works out well for consumers. Some lawmakers have gone even further in their criticism of Nord, saying that she is too “cozy” with manufacturers, and her stance is being influenced by a White House that too often chooses the interest of business over consumers.

Today Nord said she had no intention of resigning. “I’m dedicated to the mission of this agency,” Nord told the CBS Early Show “We work every day to make sure the marketplace is safe for consumers.” Nord denied the either she or the CPSC were unduly influenced by manufacturers or the White House.

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