Consumer Safety Chief Says She Won't Quit

The head of the Consumer Product Safety Commission said Wednesday she won't heed Democratic lawmakers' calls for her resignation.

"At this point I have no intention of resigning," said acting Chairwoman Nancy Nord. "I'm doing my job, and part of my job is to talk with Congress about the tools and resources we need."

Nord rejected criticism that she is controlled by the White House and too cozy with manufacturers.

"I'm dedicated to the mission of this agency. We work every day to make sure the marketplace is safe for consumers," she said in an interview with CBS' The Early Show co-anchor Julie Chen.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has called for Nord's resignation, saying that even after the recalls of millions of Chinese-made toys Nord has failed to see the gravity of the situation.

"I think she's an employee of the Bush administration and toy safety and product safety is not a priority for them," Pelosi said.

Pelosi's chief gripe is that Nord actually opposes a bill that would double the agency's budget over the next seven years to more than $141 million a year, reported CBS News correspondent Chip Reid.

"Any commission chair who (says) ... 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 Tuesday. "I call on the president of the United States to ask for the resignation."

Nord says she would "absolutely welcome" more resources, but wants to make sure she has "the right tools and the right people."

"I want to be hiring more safety inspectors and scientists and compliance officers, I don't want to be hiring lawyers," she said.

Pelosi has been joined in her call for Nord's resignation by other Democrats in the House and Senate, including Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and representatives like Bobby Rush, D-Ill., and Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn.

Nord, in an Oct. 24 letter to the Senate Commerce Committee, said the Democratic bill doubling the agency's funding and giving it greater authority to inspect and recall products "could have the unintended consequence of hampering, rather than furthering, consumer product safety." She specifically complained that the additional responsibilities the bill adds will make it more difficult for the agency to do its job.

The White House also opposes the legislation, citing the same reasons as Nord, reported Reid.

"We have serious concerns with a number of provisions in the legislation," said Allan Hubbard, director of the National Economic Council and assistant to the president for economic policy.

Despite the opposition, the committee sent legislation to the full Senate that would increase the number of workers at the agency to at least 500 by 2013, modernize its testing facilities and increase the number of safety inspectors at U.S. ports.

The Consumer Products Safety Commission was founded in 1973 with a staff of about 800. It now employs about half that number, while the importation of products from other countries has vastly increased.

Democrats say the limited resources given to the CPSC have made products used by Americans less safe.

Under the bill, the agency's budget would go to $80 million in 2009 and increase 10 percent each year after that.

"It is very clear to me, as well as millions of moms and dads around the country, that the CPSC is failing to keep dangerous toys and products out of the marketplace," said Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., who co-sponsored the legislation with Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii.

More than 21 million toys made in China - from Baby Einstein Discover & Play Color Blocks from Kids II Inc., to Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway by RC2 Corp. - have been recalled because of excessive levels of lead paint, tiny magnets that could be swallowed or other potentially serious problems.

Lead is toxic if ingested by young children.
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