Bipartisan bill to revamp outdated legislation is advancing in the Senate and the House, but the window to enact reform could be narrow
A bipartisan effort to reform the US’s nearly 40-year-old chemicals regulation is progressing in both chambers of Congress. The Senate bill appears to have the support of more than 60 senators – enough to pass and also survive the obstructive tactics of a filibuster. The measure next heads to the Senate floor. Meanwhile, a counterpart bipartisan bill in the House of Representatives has passed a legislative hurdle and will now be considered by the energy and commerce committee. The House measure bears some similarities to the Senate version, but is not as sweeping.
‘The Senate bill is much more exhaustive or complete – it addresses a number of current holes,’ says Jim Aidala, the former assistant administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances under President Clinton. While both bills should make it more easy for the Environmental Protection Agency to request chemical test data from industry and others, the Senate version offers particulars about how to prioritise, evaluate and regulate chemicals in a timely manner, while the House version does not.
If reform isn’t enacted into law this year, observers suggest that its prospects become much dimmer because 2016 is a US presidential election year.