House committee grills commissioners on budget request

House committee grills commissioners on budget request

Members of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on VA, HUD and Independent Agencies closely questioned CPSC’s Chairman and two Commissioners at a hearing on Feb. 25 about whether the budget numbers in the President’s request for Fiscal Year 2005 were adequate to support the work of the agency.

The current CPSC 2004 appropriation is $59.6 million, an increase of some $3 million over 2003. The White House budget request for the agency for FY 2005 is about $62.65 million, but with mandated pay increases and higher rental costs, an appropriation of that amount will just barely equal a “current services” budget, according to agency insiders.

Democrats on the House subcommittee raised questions related to the Commission’s rejection of a product registration card petition by the Consumer Federation of America. (3)

Representative David E. Price (D-NC) pressed Chairman Hal Stratton on the issue, noting that Commissioner Thomas Moore had supported a modified version of the registration card rule. Questioning by Price and by Representative Alan B. Mollohan (D-WV) put the Commissioners on the defensive regarding alleged underfunding of the agency. Mollohan wanted to know why CPSC had not sought more funds for needed improvements in CPSC’s lab facility and in Internet technology.

Stratton and his staff noted that those “investments” had been deferred in this budget request, with the intent that a one-time request for a sizable appropriation to complete a new laboratory was under consideration for the future.

The subcommittee’s chairman, Representative James Walsh (R-NY) was friendlier. Walsh focused on the regional ATV hearings conducted by the Commission last year.

No more information has become available about the progress of a CPSC reauthorization bill. A Senate-passed reauthorization went to the House last year, but thus far no House hearings have been held. Given a climate in which Congress is distracted by the Iraqi war and Presidential elections, most observers do not expect a serious attempt at reauthorization this year. (4)

(3) See “Product Registration Card Proposal on CPSC Agenda,” CPSC Monitor, Vol.8, Issue 1, January 2003.

(4) “Senate Passes CPSC Reauthorization: Fate in House Unknown,” CPSC Monitor, Vol. 8, Issue 9-10, September-October, 2003.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Consumer Alert

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group