House Advances Chemical Safety Reform Bill, Teeing Up Senate Vote

WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives passed legislation Tuesday evening that would reform the country’s principal chemical safety law, moving Congress one step closer to the first major revision of the law in nearly four decades.

The bipartisan bill aims to update the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). It passed the House nearly unanimously.

There is fairly strong agreement among congressional representatives that the TSCA needs to be reformed. The law has been criticized for allowing thousands of new chemicals to go on the market in the United States without safety testing, and for failing to keep chemicals that have been found to be harmful off the market.

The House reform bill would allow both chemical manufacturers and the Environmental Protection Agency to flag chemicals for risk evaluation, and would require such evaluations to be completed within three years. The bill would also increase the amount of information about chemicals made available to regulators and health care professionals.

Sens. David Vitter (R-La.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.) have introduced their own reform legislation in the Senate. That bill passed out of committee in April but has not yet come up for a vote before the entire body.

“Now it’s the Senate’s turn to act on our extremely bipartisan legislation,” said Vitter in a statement following the House vote, describing the Senate process as “a long, difficult road bringing people to the table and negotiating compromise.” The bill currently has 21 Republican and 20 Democratic co-sponsors.

There are some key differences between the House and Senate bills that will likely need to be reconciled if and when the Senate version passes. Democratic co-sponsors of the Senate legislation, including Sens. Udall, Tom Carper (Del.), Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.) and —> Read More