The long-stalled bill to establish a federal consumer agency was cleared yesterday for floor action by the House.
The House Rules Committee sent the bill to the full House by a 10-to-5 vote.
House Speaker Thomas P. O'Neill has held off floor action to enable supporters of the bill to rally votes. The supporters made a compromise last week with some members who originally opposed the bill in hopes of winning House approval.
The proposed agency would advocate consumer interests before federal regulators. The sponsors say federal regulatory proceedings are now dominated by business representatives and the regulators do not hear from consumer representatives.
As part of the House compromise, the supporters agreed to remove from the bill a provision allowing the consumer agency to issue interrogatories written questions which a business is compelled to answer. Businesses had complained that such a power would allow the federal government to harass businesses.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said yesterday the compromise proposal for a consumer protection agency is different in name only from the previous ones, which it has opposed.
Jeffrey H. Joseph, director of government and consumer affairs for the chamber, released an analysis of the new proposal saying that in some ways it increased agency powers over the previous proposal.