House Dem leaders back chemical safety bill

House Dem leaders back chemical safety bill
© Greg Nash

House Democratic leaders and the chairman of a committee are supporting a bipartisan deal on overhauling the nation’s chemical safety standards.

Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi asks Democrats for 'leverage' on impeachment Is there internet life after thirty? Pelosi says Dems 'have to be ready to throw a punch — for the children' in 2020 MORE (Calif.), Minority Whip Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerOmar says US should reconsider aid to Israel Liberal Democrat eyes aid cuts to Israel after Omar, Tlaib denied entry Lawmakers blast Trump as Israel bars door to Tlaib and Omar MORE (Md.) and Rep. Frank Pallone (N.J.), the top Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee, said Monday that they are ready to release the bill after changes they requested were adopted Friday.

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“Democrats remain concerned by Republicans’ provisions limiting states’ ability to act aggressively on toxic substances. However, the bill grants EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] with significant new authority to protect the public from unsafe toxic chemicals,” the three said in a joint statement.

“House Democrats succeeded in empowering the EPA to unilaterally demand testing on chemicals it suspects are unsafe for people or harmful to the environment,” they said. “Recent changes Democrats made will reduce the harm of the state preemption provisions in the bill.”

Both chambers of Congress plan to vote on the bill this week, with the hopes of making it available for President Obama’s signature by the end of the week.

Pre-emption of states’ authority to regulate chemicals independently of the federal government has long been a sticking point for Democrats throughout the years of negotiations on reforming the 1976 Toxic Chemicals Safety Act.

Through last week, Pelosi, Hoyer and Pallone had not supported the bipartisan compromise bill. Pallone said his objection was mainly focused on the issue of state pre-emption.

With the backing of the House Democrats, the bill now has the support of party and committee leaders on both sides of the aisle.

The bill, dubbed the Frank L. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act after the late senator, would give the EPA the authority and means to order testing of and regulate thousands of chemicals.

As of Friday, Rep. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), top Democrat on the subcommittee with jurisdiction over the matter, did not support the compromise bill, citing state authority concerns.