Mr. President, I’m proud to be a member of the Commerce Committee that passed legislation through the committee under the leadership of Chairman Inouye, Senator Stevens and consumer subcommittee Chairman Pryor. I'm also pleased that this legislation includes the bills that I introduced that finally put a mandatory ban on lead in children's toys.

Now, this legislation has been called by the Wall Street Journal -- the most significant consumer safety legislation in a generation. That comes from the Wall Street Journal.  But what this really is about is not just all the details, of all the toys I'm going to talk about in a minute, the toys that have been recalled and what this has meant to our economy. But what this really is about are these little children.

Senator Pryor and I just left an event, Mr. President, where two children's families, their mothers were there to talk about what had happened to them. And the first is this little boy named Jacob. And his family is from Arkansas. And one day the mom just painted this picture. Look at this little boy. Painted this picture that you'll never forget of her standing in the kitchen one day and all of a sudden they see their little boy and he's just practically limp. Just like that. He was a happy little boy playing, and what had happened was that he had swallowed one of these aqua dot toys, you put it in the water and it expands to an animal or whatever it is, and he swallowed it. He's getting more and more limp. Finally an ambulance comes-- they end up in a hospital. Within an hour he is completely unconscious. They have no idea what's wrong. Unconscious, just swallowed a little toy. A little thing that you would think maybe would be in his stomach and would create indigestion or something like that. And they don't know what's wrong. The hospital thinks maybe he got into their medicine cabinet and they didn't know it and took some cold medicine or something happened. They gave him medicine to try to reverse that. He wouldn't wake up. It was a complete puzzle.

They didn't know how this could have happened and nothing worked. Finally six hours later and she said the doctor said if she hadn't been there, she wouldn't have believed it. Suddenly this boy woke up and he's just fine. All these tubes connected to him and they think they're going to lose him. And he just wakes up and he's fine. They think how could this have happened. They don't know.  They call the company that manufactures these aqua dots. They try to write letters. The mom gets on the internet the next day trying to figure out what could be wrong, sending out blogs trying to find out information. They tested him some more and tested these aqua dots some more. They found out that the aqua dots contained a chemical that was really the date rape drug.

I can tell you we've handled these cases before where women have been slipped one of these drugs in their drink and they're suddenly completely out of it and don't know what happens. And you know the crimes that have occurred as a result of this. But this is just this little boy swallowed a dot. A dot that had the date rape drugged manufactured inn this moves story was told and said this can't happen to other parents. She said, the senators why don't they think if this happened to their kids or grandkids where they suddenly swallow a little toy and are out like that. It is like swallowing a gumball.

There was another mother that came, and she is from Oregon, and she told a story that we see now years later, Colton, when he was very --Colton, and when he was little he swallowed a charm, and all of a sudden will she said, he started acting lethargic, not at all like the little toddler he was, and they brought him into the hospital, and though found out that that charm was 39% lead. 39% lead.

Now, their story, unlike the story of little Jacob didn't end there, because he has that lead permanently in his system. And today years and years later when they go to the doctor, he is still tested for elevated lead levels. And, in fact, even a few days after he got home, after they had gotten the charm out of his stomach, he bit his cheek and his cheek swelled up to the size of a golf ball because of the lead that was in his system. This is what we're talking about here. Moms just getting little charms that their kids swallow, used to be like maybe if you swallowed a penny, we all know what lead can mean.

I know this in Minnesota where we have a little boy whose mom wasn't there because her heart is broken forever. Her little 4-year-old boy died when he swallowed a charm that turned out to be 99 % lead. And he did not die from choke, he didn't die because it blocked his airway, he died because that lead went into his system day after day-day. When he died he tested at three times the normal lead level. At this time nearly 29 million of toys and pieces of children's jewelry was recalled because they were found to be dangerous and in some cases deadly for children. As a mom and former prosecutor, I find it unacceptable that these toys are in our stores. As our daughter said when she found out that the Barbies were getting recalled, she said, "this is getting serious."

The provision of the consumer product act addresses some of the most serious discoveries of this past year and that is the lead surfacing in these toys. The toy that little Jarnell Brown swallowed that led to his death was made in china, it was 99% lead. The toy that little Colton swallowed that nearly led to his death and led to high levels of lead in his blood stream was 39 39% lead. These injuries have been made so much more tragic by the fact, Mr. President, that they could have been prevented.

These little boys should have never been given these toys in the first place. It shouldn't take a child's death or severe injury or a child swallowing an aqua dot with a date rape drug to alert us that there is a problem in this country. Parents should have the right to expect that these toys are tested and that these problems are found before these toys get to the toy box. For 30 years we've been aware of the dangers posed by lead. We know it by the lead paint standards. What is ironic, we have a federal standard for lead paint. We have a standard. But we've never had a standard for lead in toys or jewelry. We never had it for toy that's could end up in kids' stomach or kids sitting in class chewing on a charm around their neck.

The CPSC. recalled Thomas and friend  trains. Including the Thomas the Train caboose, and the train car and box car after finding it to be coated with lead paint. A lot of these parents bought this because it was made of wood. Many of these products retailed for $10 to $20 apiece were on the market for three years before being discovered to be effective. Putting toddlers at risk for lead ingestion. And this shows you how out of hand it has been because there is no set standard and no good regulation from the consumer product safety commission.

The company that makes Thomas the train set, realized that the first recall was incomplete they asked for a recall and they found hundreds of thousands of additional products, many of which had been sold statement packaging with trains that had already been recalled were coated with lead paint. The RC2 corporation was embarrassed by its safety record, it apologized to its customers, saying it would make every effort to ensure that it wouldn't happen again and to help to encourage customer loyalty, which you can understand in a loyal market, and to return the recalled toys, rc-2 said, ok, we're so sorry this happened, we're going to give you a bonus gift for this trouble. The bonus gift backfired in a big way. It was discovered that the 2,000 bonus gift trains that they had given to parents for sending back the recalled products, contained lead products four times higher than legally allowed. Leaving parents of toddlers across the nation to deal with a double recall.  The burden should not fall on the kids to tell if a toy is coated with lead paint or if it is put together so is shoddily that it will come apart in a child's mouth.

I think it is shocking for most parents to realize that we have never had a mandatory ban on lead.  The consumer product safety commission cannot enforce a lead ban in children's toys. In response to a series of letters that I wrote to the chairwoman about the danger of lead in children's products, the chairwoman acknowledges that, -- quote -- "the cpsc does not have the authority to ban lead in all children's products without considering exposures and risks on a product by product basis." Oh, now that's really going to help the family of Colton that our powerful federal agency -- we thought we solved all of the consumer product issues in the 1970's that this is a safe country, then we find out they do not have the authority. Chairwoman Nord went on to say if it were banned, -- quote -- "it would likely take several years and millions of dollars in staff and other resources."

This response makes it clear that congress cannot wait for the CPSC to act to ban lead from all children's products. We've been waiting for years. These parents have been waiting for years and years, this mother who spoke to us, she went and wrote letters, she has been trying to lobby by herself on behalf of her son to make sure it didn't happen again. Her heart broke two years after her son had this horrible experience when she heard about the case of Jarnell Brown who died.

This congress has a duty to make sure they weren't in vain. Parents should not have to wait years for the CPSC to take action. It is clear, lead poisons kids and there must be a federal ban. To talk a little bit more about the specifics, this legislation effectively bans lead in all children's products by classifying lead as a banned hazardous substance under the federal substance act. It sets a ceiling for trace levels of allowable lead at .03% at the total weight of a part of a children's product. To put it in some perspective. California has a standard of .04 for children's toys and .02 for jewelry. The voluntary ban that is not voluntary that the CPSC uses federally is .06. We worked with pediatricians and consumer experts and set this at a very smart standard of .03% of trace level. That ceiling would take effect in one year allowing retailers and manufacturers time to comply. Two years later the legislation would then further drop the amount of allowable lead in children's products to .01% of a total weight of a part or 100 parts per million.

If the CPSC finds that you can go below the threshold that a lot of pediatricians argued that we can do in this country that we can get down to zero lead that would be great. This law says that you tonight have to be stuck at .01, which is a small level of trace lead. You can go lower for certain products or for all products and this legislation gives the CPSC the power to lower levels even further as science and technology allow. The legislation before us today also sets an even lower threshold for paint under this bill the allowable level for paint would drop immediately to 90 parts per million. This lower threshold is critical because science has shown that as children put products in their mouth, it is the painted coatings which are most easily accessible to kids. Every parent of a toddler knows this to be true. There -- you can see if you're -- any parent looks in the toy box, all of the little teeth marks on toys, they know that they put them in their mouths.

Under the current law the consumer product commission has adopted a voluntary guideline of .06%, it is voluntary, that is part of the reason it takes so long and part of the reason we have had a huge delay, it puts a mandatory guideline from .03 to .01. This legislation changes what is a bad system, a broken system, and gives the CPSC the tools it needs immediately to go after the bad actors who have used lead or lead-based paint in their products. To me, the focus is simple, we need to get the toxic toys out of the kids' hands. Not just voluntarily, not just as a guideline, but as a force of law. As millions of toys are pulled from the shelves, 29 million last year, right in the middle of Halloween, they were pulling the mouth, the funny teeth that you put in your mouth, aqua dots, sponge bob square pants, you name it, it gives the law to pull the toys from the shelves.

As if the recall is not bad enough, it illuminated other toys being pulled. This is what I heard from my friend. Once the recalls happened, every parent runs to the kids' room and says-- I have to find the toy that is recalled. How are they going to tell the difference between the brunette Barbie doll and the blond one, this is practical when you're a mother? This is -- how can you tell the difference between this box car or this caboose, they're trying to figure out, putting them up on a website, there is no batch number. Most parents when they get their kids a toy, do not keep the packaging, my mother-in-law may be an exception to that. Most parents do not keep the packaging, what this legislation does, Mr. President, is it says that the batch numbers will be on the toys whenever practical.

We know that large retailers like Toys "r" Us an target, the minute there is a recall, they stop all sales, they do it through the consumer system. Some of the smaller mom and pop retailers do not have that capability, knots to mention ebay and that kind of thing. we want to make sure that the batch number that this legislation requires not only on a toy, but also on the packaging. This legislation, though, does a lot more than ban lead in children's toys and to help parents identify recalled toys. It brings consumers the protection that has been lacking for almost two decades, as we all know the Consumer Product Safety Commission's last authorization expired in 1992 and the statutes have not been updated since 1990. Not surprisingly the marketplace for consumer products has changed significantly in the last 16 years and we have seen through recall after recall how ill equipped the CPSC is. Today the commission is a shadow of its former self, Mr. President, although the number of imports has tripled in recent years.

So what you've seen is a tripling of imports, products coming in and then what have you seen with the staff? Well, you have seen quite a drop in the staff. The CPSC staff has dropped by almost half, falling from a high in 1980 of 978 people that worked there. Here we go, 978 people and then what do we see in 2007?  Well we have 393 today. So how are these aqua dots with date rape drugs in them getting into our system, getting on to our shores?

Well, you don't have the staff adequate to monitor these toys.  So while there is tripling of imports from china and other places, you have seen a umber of recalls. When you look at this comparison, in 1980 when you had 681,000 toys recall, you had 681,000 toys recalled, then you go up to 2007 where you had 28 million toys recalled. Look at the staff comparisons. When you have 681,000 toys recalled, the staff is up near 1,000. When you have, as we do now, 28 million toys being recalled, you have a staff that is half of what it used to be. So there's a graphic depiction of what we're dealing with. So what does this legislation do? it puts 50 more staffs at united states ports of entry in the next two years to inspect toys and products coming into the country. Not only does this bill give the CPSC the necessary funding and the staff, but it also gives the commission the ability to enforce the violations of consumer product safety bills.

We've seen too many headlines of this year to sit around and think about this problem and say it's just going to solve itself, the market will take over. The market's been broken.
The market's been broken. The CPSC has been broken. So this is the time the government comes in. I'm proud of the work toys are us which supports this bill, has done to work with us, as well as target, which has also been very helpful in working with us, because they know it's had an effect on their bottom line. Here's what this bill does, Mr. President. We can beef up this agency that's been languishing for years. We can put the rules in place-- sensible, responsible rules that makes it easier for them to do their jobs. This is not just numbers on a chart. And let's just show these kids one more time. Little Jacob. This is not just numbers on the chart. This is about a little kid that just in the last year, in the year 2007 in the United States of America could swallow just a little toy which kids have done for centuries and end up in a coma, unconscious from a date rape drug.

This bill is about numbers. This bill is about our economy. But more than that, this bill is about these kids. I urge my colleagues to support it. I thank Senator Pryor and the other members of our committee for their leadership. I see Senator Durbin is here from Illinois. I thank him for his great leadership on this bill. It is the most significant consume safety legislation in our generation as the Wall Street Journal has said. We have this opportunity, and we must work swiftly. Thank you, Mr. President. And I yield the floor.