“Regulatory Accountability Act” is Biggest Threat to Consumer Safety Pending in Congress
Statement of CSPI Executive Director Michael F. Jacobson
Legislation coming before the Senate Homeland Security Committee as early as this week threatens the security of the homeland more than any other piece of legislation pending in Congress.
The so-called Regulatory Accountability Act would threaten every existing and future law protecting consumers from unsafe food, dirty water and air, dangerous toys, toxic chemicals, and so on. If this ill-intentioned law were the law of the land following September 11, the Federal Aviation Administration might never have adopted the stronger doors designed to keep terrorists out of cockpits. If it passes, it could mean that our modern microbial meat inspection program could be tossed out in favor of the dark days of “poke and sniff” inspections—if even that. The bill would better be called the “Filthy Food Act.”
The RAA would intentionally trump all other legislation, requiring agencies to seek the least costly, rather than the most beneficial, outcome. It would require agencies to defend proposed new safeguards in kangaroo courts upon industry demand—a brand new hurdle aimed at endlessly delaying such safeguards. And, the bill would invert corporations’ long-standing obligation to show their products are safe by shifting the burden to the public to prove that products are dangerous. To top it all off, the bill elevates politics over science by giving White House appointees unprecedented new authority to meddle in the affairs of cabinet-level agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency or independent agencies like the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Make no mistake: When Donald Trump’s senior advisor Stephen Bannon spoke of the administration’s desire to “deconstruct the administrative state,” he was envisioning what the country would look like following the passage of the Regulatory Accountability Act. We call on all members of the Senate to oppose this reckless assault on the environment, consumers, workers, and public health—and on common sense.