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 PelosiCongress exits with no deal, leaving economists flabbergasted Trump says he'll sign USPS funding if Democrats make concessions Pelosi calls Trump attacks on mail-in voting a 'domestic assault on our Constitution' MORE (Calif.), Minority Whip Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerProgressives look to flex their muscle in next Congress after primary wins Lawmakers of color urge Democratic leadership to protect underserved communities in coronavirus talks The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump to Democratic negotiators: 'They know my phone number' 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.