In some breaking news from Capitol Hill, 20-term Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA) has decided not to seek re-election in 2014. As the former Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and its current Ranking Member, Rep. Waxman played an instrumental role in framing and driving the debate around consumer product safety issues. For example, after the “year of the recall” in 2007, Rep. Waxman was one of the primary authors of the controversial Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (“CPSIA”) along with Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL). This law has had a profound impact on the regulatory regime governing product safety. In recent years, he was a leading proponent of reforming the Toxic Substance Control Act (“TSCA”).
I had the pleasure of working on Rep. Waxman’s staff for a semester as a law student and learned a great deal about the inner-workings of Congress from that experience. Whether you agree or disagree with Rep. Waxman’s approach to enhancing the safety of consumer products, and other products not covered by the Consumer Product Safety Act, such as cosmetics, automobiles, and pharmaceuticals, his absence come next Congress will be felt by all of us who work in the product safety arena. This is a significant development for the future of product safety law and regulation.