Thank you very much Senator Durbin and thank you for your work in helping to build the CPSC and working to provide more resources. I don’t think one guy in an office like that should be charged with ensuring the safety of $22 billion worth of toys. We clearly need change and I also am proud to be on the Commerce Committee with my two colleagues who are working so hard on this issue. 

This issue hit home to us in Minnesota when a little four-year-old boy named Jarnell Brown died when he swallowed a little heart shaped charm.  And this charm was given to him for free with a pair of tennis shoes.  He didn’t buy it; his mom didn’t buy it.  And he didn’t die from swallowing it; he didn’t die from choking on it.  He died when the lead creeped into his blood stream.  It fatally poisoned him; it took a number of days.  And when the Minnesota Department of health tested that charm it was 99% lead.  It came from China and his blood level contained three times the amount of lead than what health officials consider dangerous.  This was preventable.  This little boy should never have had that charm in the first place. 

As a parent of a 12 year old, like everyone else, I am alarmed by the reports that have been coming out about all toys.  Look at this Thomas the Train toy set.  Over a million pieces of this toy--recalled.  This has got to stop.  My daughter’s 12, as I said, and I have to tell you, she was sort of embarrassed by my interest in this issue, Chairman, because she didn’t care about Spongebob, or Thomas the Train set, it was sort of embarrassing for her.  But when she heard that the Barbies were recalled, she came into the kitchen and said, “Mom, this is really getting serious.” 

And this is getting serious.  It’s time for us to take action.  These toys should not be on our shores and they should not be in our stores.  I’ve introduced two pieces of legislation that have been incorporated into the bill that Senator Pryor referenced.  The first is to effectively ban lead in children’s toys.  We looked at what was going on with the Consumer Product Safety Commission, practically.  Right now what happens is they have a voluntary guideline standard and then after that if it doesn’t meet that standard they have to go through a number of tests.  There are proposals out there for rule making.  We decided, Mr. Chairman, it would be easier just to ban lead, allowing trace levels of lead, at a level that’s actually lower than they have now, to .02 for jewelry, which is a case like what we have seen with the little boy in Minneapolis. 

For thirty years, we’ve been aware of the dangers posed to children by lead paint.  It is time to change our current system of voluntary guidelines and use the force of law and have an actual federal standard. 

The other piece of legislation that I introduced, which is also incorporated into this bill, will make it easier for parents to identify recalled toys.  Now, imagine if you are a parent at a toy box and you’ve heard that Thomas the Train set has been recalled.  You try to figure out which is recalled, is it the caboose or is it the boxcar?  Or if you have a Barbie and you are trying to figure out the difference between one and another, it is nearly impossible.  Our legislation requires that batch numbers or identifications be on these toys so that when there is a recall it is easier for parents to tell what that recall is.  It also requires that it be on the packaging because while larger retailers are able to put recalls into their computer systems and stop the sale right when it occurs, and we have worked with the retailers on this, some of the smaller operations or online services wouldn’t be able to do this.  So that’s the other piece of the bill.

Finally the legislation makes it illegal to sell a recalled toy, taking action against those bad actors who are out there. We have seen too many headlines; we have had too many deaths.  For one little boy in Minneapolis and for the others that could be prevented, we have to stop just bemoaning the recalls, and we have to act now.  Thank you for your leadership.