Safety Board Head Under Fire Over Recalls

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday called for the resignation of the head of the Consumer Product Safety Commission following the recall of millions of Chinese-made toys.

Pelosi says it's clear that Nancy Nord, the acting chairwoman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, doesn't understand the gravity of the situation, because she opposes legislation now before Congress that would double the agency's budget over the next seven years to more than $141 million a year, reports CBS News correspondent Chip Reid.

The legislation, which was passed unanimously by the Senate Commerce Committee Tuesday, would also give the agency tough new tools to go after companies that make or market unsafe products.

For example, the bill would raise the cap on penalties from $1.8 million to $100 million per offense and give company employees big rewards for blowing the whistle on unsafe products, reports 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," said Pelosi, who has been joined in her call for Nord's resignation by other Democrats in the House and Senate. "I call on the president of the United States to ask for the resignation."

Nord says the Democrats have it all wrong, reports Reid.

She agrees the agency is badly in need of more resources to modernize testing labs -- some of which are straight out of the 1950s -- and to help the agency's mere 420 full-time employees, including only 150 scientists, handle hundreds of thousands of product safety reports.

"Show me a bureaucrat who doesn't want more money," she told Reid.

In an Oct. 24 letter to the Senate Commerce Committee, Nord wrote that the bill "could have the unintended consequence of hampering, rather than furthering, consumer product safety."

She said Democrats want to change the mission of the agency's focus from product testing to litigation against companies producing unsafe products, reports Reid.

"This agency will end up hiring lawyers rather than the scientists and the safety inspectors that I think we need," she said.

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