Washington — If you listen very carefully during breaks in the din of the presidential race, you might hear a quiet murmur coming from Capitol Hill. What's that? The sound of actual legislating? Could be!
The top two senators leading work on the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), released a joint statement saying the biggest hurdles of their disagreement on reforming the1970s-era chemical regulation law have been cleared.
“We have negotiated in good faith and are extremely pleased that we have reached an agreement on key sticking points of the TSCA reform bill,” the pair wrote. “We have an incredible team that is working tirelessly, and we look forward to finalizing the deal with House negotiators.”
Neither Boxer nor Inhofe said what changes had been agreed to in the measures that were passed by the Senate in December and the House last June.
Boxer has been the most vocal holdout against the bipartisan bill that would regulate chemical manufacture, transportation and use, pushing for more regulatory control for states and more power to act swiftly and harshly when “cancer clusters” are detected.
Negotiations with the California senator were part of a larger effort to reconcile the Senate's 200-plus page bill with the much shorter and more limited one passed by the House.
Those leading the effort on the House side, not to be outdone but not to get too excited, either, issued a joint statement of their own.
“This is an important step forward and we'll work through the weekend reviewing the language. We look forward to keeping the momentum going,” said the statement from Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.), John Shimkus (R-Ill.), and Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.).
Industry also threw in its 2 cents on the news: “The agreement that Senator Inhofe reached with Senator Boxer builds upon the work of Senators Vitter, Udall, Markey and others and paves the way for final passage, and we greatly appreciate the commitment and hard work of the Senators and their staffs. We look forward to a swift resolution with the House and passage soon thereafter,” said the American Chemistry Council in a statement.
The reconciled bill still has to be approved by both chambers of Congress but could be on the president's desk in a matter of weeks.