Washington — The U.S. House of Representatives passed a final version of a bill (HR 2576) that would update the Toxic Substances Control Act May 24 on a 403-12 roll call vote.
The move edges ever closer to reforming the much-maligned 1970s-era law governing the manufacture, transportation and regulation of chemicals in the United States. The bill must now get final approval from the Senate before heading to the president's desk for Barack Obama's signature.
For decades since its enactment, the only thing anyone could agree on regarding TSCA was that it wasn't working; the House vote marks the beginning of the end of decades of work to change that.
“This bill represents a balanced and thoughtful compromise that makes long needed improvements to an outdated and ineffective law,” said John Shimkus (R-Ill.), Environment and the Economy Subcommittee chairman and one of the leaders in the TSCA reform effort. “It's the culmination of a multi-year, multi-Congress effort and marks the first consequential update of the Toxic Substances Control Act in 40 years. I thank everyone who worked hard to get us to where we are today. It's imperative that we get this bill signed into law without delay.”
Though there is rare, overwhelming bipartisan support for the bill, nine Democrats and three Republicans still voted against it.
Rep. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) led the opposition on the floor amid concerns that the reforms would weaken existing significant new use rules, weaken state government's abilities to act on a chemical once the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has begun its analysis, limit reporting requirements for inorganic byproducts and open other regulatory loopholes “that undermine the public health and environmental protection goals of TSCA.”
Industry has strongly supported the bill in its most recent iteration.
“U.S. manufacturers and America's consumers can take heart that a 21st century approach to managing chemicals is just steps away,” said American Chemistry Council President and CEO Cal Dooley in a Tuesday press release.
The bill is expected to be signed into law before the Memorial Day break.