Senators push for floor vote on chemical reform bill

Sens.Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallDemocrats oppose effort to delay or repeal Interior methane rule CBS series 'Madam Secretary' exploring 'fake news' plot Democrats double down on calls for Congress to protect Mueller MORE (D-N.M.) and David VitterDavid VitterYou're fired! Why it's time to ditch the Fed's community banker seat Overnight Energy: Trump set to propose sharp cuts to EPA, energy spending Former La. official tapped as lead offshore drilling regulator MORE (R-La.) are pushing Senate leadership to schedule a vote on a bipartisan bill to reform the nation’s toxic chemical laws before lawmakers leave for summer recess in three weeks.

The Frank Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, introduced in March, has garnered 50 co-sponsors ­– 22 Democrats and 28 Republicans – in addition to Udall and Vitter, making for a total of 52 supporters. The bill only needs 51 votes to pass the Senate.

Named after the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who long sought to reform the Toxic Chemicals Control Act (TSCA) of 1976, the Udall-Vitter bill would direct the Environmental Protection Agency to base chemical safety regulations solely on health and safety risks, leaving out industry costs altogether.

Republicans conceded on changes to the original legislation to allow states greater flexibility to regulate chemicals that EPA has not acted on and allow states to enforce rules along with the federal government.

Sen. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeMcCain backs Pentagon nominee despite concerns over defense industry ties GOP senators ask Trump for meeting on biofuels mandate Trump feuds endangering tax reform MORE (R-Okla.), chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said he’s committed to shepherding the legislation, which passed through the Environment and Public Works Committee in May, through to the finish line.

“Momentum continues to build for the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act with now more than a majority of the Senate cosponsoring this important and timely piece of environmental reform legislation,” he said in a statement. “The 52 cosponsors of the bill represent a total of 33 states, and I expect this representation to continue to grow as the bill moves towards floor consideration.” 

Since the legislation she introduced with Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyCBS series 'Madam Secretary' exploring 'fake news' plot Senate Dems warn against cutting ObamaCare fund to pay for children's health program Trump’s North Korea strategy requires an intervention from Congress MORE (D-Mass.) has failed to garner any support, Sen. Barbara BoxerBarbara BoxerFour more lawmakers say they’ve been sexually harassed by colleagues in Congress California Hispanics are the vanguard for a new political paradigm Trump riles Dems with pick for powerful EPA job MORE  (D-Calif.) is now pushing the Senate to take up the House bill to reform TSCA instead.

The house bill would require EPA to review chemicals in products and expedite risk management regulations. It also would allow to issue their own protections until EPA exonerates a chemical or has taken action to restrict it.

Boxer said earlier this month that with a few changes, the House bill is the best option for chemical reform.