Vacationing Lawmakers Delay Safe Chemicals Act

Maybe you can relate to Harold McDaniel. He's a self-described conservative man, hard-working, who spent years in manufacturing. He cares about his community, and McDaniel shared his perspective in a recent post at Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families.  McDaniel wrote that he's concerned about cancer in his hometown of Paducah, Kentucky. He described his concerns about protecting both chemical workers and citizens, reasons behind his support of the Safe Chemicals Act.

McDaniel's story underscores what a national survey already shows:  bipartisan support among citizens is strongly in favor of reforming our outdated laws on chemical safety.  Despite what opponents might want the undecided to believe, most of us outside the Washington beltway don't care as much about the old party lines or other things that divide us socially.  When it comes to mainstream, common-sense, family and community issues, the rest of us outside Washington tend to agree.  And we're not naive enough to believe that any sort of health and safety regulation is a job killer.  Just the opposite is true:  consumers want to support responsible manufacturers who care about long-term health and safety.

Many of us outside Washington are so busy living our lives, working, caring for families and volunteering, that we didn't even realize Congress had already given itself another long break from the work we taxpayers pay it to do.  I had sent yet another message asking Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to please bring the Safe Chemicals Act to a vote, then I realized that he and all of his colleagues in both houses and both parties had gone on an extended, seven-week vacation until after the November elections. 

When the National Stroller Brigade marched on Washington earlier this year, it demonstrated the best of what our citizens and some lawmakers stand for by supporting a healthier future for everyone.  While our perspectives are not exactly the same, I can appreciate things from McDaniel's point of view.  I even sense there remain a few of our elected officials out there with enough common sense to see that bipartisan support for consumer health and safety is a win-win for industry and customers.  Now that the campaign trail is the only place where we can apparently see our elected (or aspiring) officials in action  these days, I hope we'll remember to ask them tough questions about grassroots issues they too often ignore like the Safe Chemicals Act.  We can still call the campaign offices of those running this season to remind them to  support Senator Lautenberg's original bill that reflects extensive bipartisan and public/industry input.  On an issue this important, a watered down or impostor version of the bill would be unacceptable.  

The Safe Chemicals Act passed a big hurdle this summer by being voted out of committee and ready for passage in the full US Senate.  Even with the time constraints this year, the measure is ready for reintroduction to Congress in January 2013, with a groundswell of public support behind it.  Deputy Director Lindsay Dahl of the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families Coalition says, "There has never been more public support for passing the Safe Chemicals Act than there is today. Now our job is to make sure all candidates running for office know we support increased oversight on toxic chemicals."  When you see your candidate out kissing babies on the campaign trail, be sure to ask what he or she plans to do to protect those babies from toxic chemicals in household products!