All five members of the Consumer Product Safety Commission asked a Senate committee yesterday to reauthorize the CPSC budget for another three years, and give the agency another chance to prove itself.
In testimony before a Senate Commerce Subcommittee, the commissioners painted a picture of an agency getting back on its feet after months of criticism and politicization.
There has been speculation that the agency has been targeted for dissolution by the Office of Management and Budget's reorganization team, but resistance to such action has been expressed within the White House, especially from consumer advocate Esther Peterson's office.
Earlier this week, OMB officials met with Sen. Wendall Ford (D-Ky.), who heads the subcommittee with oversight authority for the CPSC. They strongly urged that the agency only be budgeted for two years. Ford said he felt the suggestion was an attempt to phase the agency out. He resisted, telling them that he would continue to push for a three-year plan.
In hearings yesterday, Ford asked newly appointed Commissioner Susan King what the agency would be like if its authority was extended for less than three years.
"It would be like getting on the Amoco Cadiz and seeing it ooze out from under you," she said. The Amoco Cadiz is a supertanker that recently ran aground off the coast of France, leaving the largest oil spill in history.
The other commissioners said they felt the same way.
The House reportedly is considering a one-year authorization for the agency.
"A one-year authorization would he like cutting us off at the knees," said Commissioneer Barbara Franklin.
At the end of the hearings, Ford said he was pleased by the testimony of support for the agency from consumers and business witnesses. He called anything less than a three-year authorization "destructive."
"I'll fight for it on the Senate floor," he added.