Vitter Statement before House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee Hearing on TSCA Reform
November 13, 2013
May 2013, Sens. Lautenberg & Vitter sit down to discuss bipartisan TSCA reform and CSIA
U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), top Republican on the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, will testify at the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy Committee on Energy and Commerce hearing today. Vitter will testify in support of legislation he coauthored with the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) to update the Toxic Substance Control Act of 1976. Vitter's legislation is entitled the Chemical Safety Improvement Act. Click here to watch today's hearing.
U.S. SENATOR DAVID VITTER
SUBCOMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENT AND THE ECONOMY
Let me begin by thanking Chairman Shimkus and Ranking Member Tonko for inviting Senator Udall and myself to this hearing today. Senator Udall and I have been working very hard these past few months to ensure that S. 1009, the Chemical Safety Improvement Act, which I had the pleasure of introducing with the late Senator Frank Lautenberg, continues to improve and gets us where we need to be to finally, after 37 long years, modernize and repair the badly outdated Toxic Substances Control Act.
Today's hearing is a great step in the right direction, and I am excited to see the House of Representatives taking such a serious interest in TSCA reform. The Lautenberg-Vitter bill, which is currently cosponsored by a bipartisan and politically diverse quarter of the United States Senate, was the product of extensive negotiations, and I believe it exemplifies real bipartisan compromise.
While crafting the bill being discussed today, Frank and I certainly were not disillusioned into thinking it was perfect legislation. That is precisely why I have partnered with Senator Udall to strengthen S. 1009 and we have committed ourselves to meeting with anyone interested in achieving significant bipartisan TSCA reform.
After a long hearing in July, and countless hours of meetings, we fully recognize the issues that have been raised, some legitimate and some not, with the Lautenberg-Vitter bill. I think it has been made abundantly clear, but I will say it again: anyone interested in achieving meaningful bipartisan compromise to ensure TSCA reform protects all Americans in all 50 states, not just a small segment of the population or the financial interests of a favored constituency, has a welcomed seat at the table.
I am confident that by working with Senator Udall, interested stakeholders, the EPA, and other Senators - both cosponsors of S. 1009 and not - we will achieve a compromise that not only enhances business certainty and creates a strong federal chemicals management system, but also sets meaningful deadlines, protects the most vulnerable among us, effectively screens all active chemicals in commerce, guarantees Americans' access to private rights of action and legal remedies, and makes certain that EPA has the tools necessary to ensure the chemicals that we are all exposed to are safe.
It is vitally important that no one in this debate becomes disillusioned that, while there is a consensus in the need for TSCA reform, this can be accomplished without compromise and strong bipartisan support. No member of Congress, individual, company, state, or advocacy group is going to get everything they want and, to those of us who understand the meaning of compromise, this should not come as any surprise.
The Lautenberg-Vitter bill is the foundation from which we should delicately build. Frank himself called this compromise a "historic step" that would "fix the flaws with current law." Vice President Biden referred to our efforts as a "bipartisan breakthrough." In a statement from Senator Lautenberg's widow Bonnie, she remembered, "Frank told me that this bill would be bigger and could save more lives than his law to ban smoking on airplanes" and, in her words, "Passage of this bill would be a wonderful cap to his career and testament to his legacy."
S. 1009 is Senator Lautenberg's legacy bill, and any attempt to go back to previous failed partisan efforts of reform is nothing more than an affirmation in the status quo that will ensure Americans in the vast majority of states all over this country, without chemical management programs of their own, will be forced to live under the current, broken TSCA.
I would be remiss not to mention the work that went into achieving bipartisan compromise with Frank. He was a talented politician committed to making the world a better place. I enjoyed arguing, negotiating and working with Frank Lautenberg. Frank's wife Bonnie was there to take pictures the day Frank and I shook hands on this pivotal agreement. I am proud that Senator Udall and I have partnered to carry on his legacy and the commitment to reform he held so dear. Both Senator Udall and I agree that the time to get this historic bipartisan agreement over the finish line is now.
Again I would like to thank the committee for holding this important hearing and for allowing me to testify. By working together we can accomplish the shared goal of reforming TSCA and finally getting modernization of this antiquated statute signed into law.