(Senate - December 18, 2015)

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[Pages S8872-S8874]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  Mr. UDALL. Mr. President, last night was a historic moment in the 
Senate. After years and years of negotiations and collaboration, after 
working with stakeholders across the country, we made tremendous 
progress toward historic, bipartisan environmental reform. The Frank R. 
Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act passed the Senate 
on a unanimous voice vote, with 60 bipartisan cosponsors and with 
overwhelming support. This is a great milestone.
  First, I want to thank Senator Vitter. Senator Vitter and I 
introduced this legislation for one basic reason: to fix our Nation's 
broken chemical safety law. I remember that over 2 years ago we had a 
very quiet dinner, and we walked away from that dinner saying: We are 
going to form a team, and we are going to get this done. It was after 
Frank Lautenberg had passed away, and Senator Vitter is a man of his 
word. We stuck to it, and we are making significant historic progress. 
I thank him for that.
  There were times when the bill was stalled from even getting 
introduced, and Senators like Tom Carper stepped in and helped us get 
back on track. I thank Senator Carper for that. His early leadership as 
an original cosponsor of this bill got us off on the much needed right 
foot. Other moderates joined in, and we had some momentum building up.
  This has been a long road to get here today. I thank Chairman Inhofe 
for his calm, steady leadership, and Senator Merkley, Senator Booker, 
Senator Whitehouse, Senator Markey, Senator Coons, Senator Durbin, and 
many others. They all helped move this forward and all helped make this 
a better bill.
  I also thank Bonnie Lautenberg. Senator Lautenberg fought hard for 

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reform. I was proud to take up that fight, and I am grateful to Bonnie, 
who has helped us every step of the way. She has been an incredible 
advocate in terms of interacting with Senators and their staff to push 
the crucial message forward on TSCA reform, and it was the message her 
husband Frank Lautenberg would repeat every day when I saw him in 
committee. He said: Are we doing the right thing for our children and 
our grandchildren? He really believed TSCA reform would save more lives 
than anything he had ever done in his life. He had a very rich life and 
lived to be almost 90 years old.
  I wish to also recognize the great advocates for reform. A lot of 
this was grassroots people standing up and saying that we haven't done 
what we need to do for the American people, for our families, and for 
our children on chemical safety. There are too many to mention all of 
them, but the Bipartisan Policy Center stood up and helped out; the 
Environmental Defense Fund--Fred Krupp, their leader, played a crucial 
role; the National Wildlife Federation; March of Dimes; North America's 
Building Trades Unions; the International Association of Machinists and 
Aerospace Workers; Moms Clean Air Force; the Physicians Committee for 
Responsible Medicine; the Humane Society, and so many others. All of 
these groups taken together represent over 30 million Americans. They 
all support the Lautenberg act. They pushed Congress to act, and they 
kept pushing until we did that.
  Many thousands of Americans have worked for chemical safety reform 
over the last four decades.
  Thank you for not giving up.
  They understand that we need a national solution to our broken 
chemical safety law.
  The Toxic Substances Control Act was enacted in 1976--nearly 40 years 
ago. It was supposed to protect American families, but it doesn't. Over 
four decades, the EPA has been able to restrict just five chemicals and 
it has prevented only four chemicals from going to market. That is out 
of tens of thousands of chemicals.
  Everyday Americans go to the grocery store or the hardware store, and 
they believe the chemicals in the products they buy have been tested 
and are safe, but that is not true because TSCA is broken. This is 
about health and safety. This is about our children and grandchildren. 
This is about people like Dominique Browning, who works with Moms Clean 
Air Force and worries about her kids and the toys and products they use 
every day. She herself survived kidney cancer. When she asked her 
doctor what caused her kidney cancer, he said: ``It's one of those 
environmental ones. Who knows? We're full of chemicals.'' That was her 
doctor talking to her when she got kidney cancer. This is about people 
like Lisa Huguenin. Lisa is a Ph.D. scientist and has done work on 
chemical exposure at Princeton and Rutgers and at the State and Federal 
levels. She is a mother first. Her 13-year-old son Harrison was born 
with autism and autoimmune deficiencies. Five years ago, Lisa testified 
before Senator Lautenberg's subcommittee on the need for reform. She is 
eager to see TSCA reform signed into law.
  That is why we are here--to fix this broken system. Now we are close 
to the finish line for the first time in almost 40 years.
  In 2009 the Obama administration laid out six essential principles 
for TSCA reform. The bill we passed last night meets all six of those 
principles, and I will go through each one individually.

  Principle No. 1, chemicals should be reviewed against safety 
standards that are based on sound science and reflect risk-based 
criteria protective of human health and the environment.
  Our bill requires the EPA to assess chemicals based only on the 
health and safety information, not on the cost. That was a significant 
change we made, and many of the Senators I talked about earlier helped 
us to get that done.
  Principle No. 2, manufacturers should provide EPA with the necessary 
information to conclude that new and existing chemicals are safe and do 
not endanger public health or the environment.
  Our bill gives EPA new authorities to develop testing data and 
requires a finding of safety before new chemicals--as many as 1,500 a 
year--enter the market. The finding on safety needs to be done not like 
it is done today but before they enter the marketplace.
  Principle No. 3, risk management decisions should take into account 
sensitive subpopulations, cost, availability of substitutes, and other 
relevant considerations.
  Our bill specifically requires the protection of vulnerable 
populations and lists examples of vulnerable populations, such as 
infants, the elderly, pregnant women, workers, and others.
  Principle No. 4, manufacturers and EPA should assess and act on 
priority chemicals, both existing and new, in a timely manner.
  Our bill requires the EPA to systematically review all the chemicals 
in commerce, prioritizing the chemicals of most concern first, and it 
sets aggressive, judicially enforceable deadlines for EPA decisions.
  Principle No. 5, green chemistry should be encouraged and provisions 
assuring transparency and public access to information should be 
  Our bill includes a section on sustainable chemistry and also makes 
more information about chemicals available by limiting industry's 
ability to claim information as confidential, and it gives States and 
health professionals access to confidential information to protect the 
  Principle No. 6, EPA should be given a sustained source of funding 
for implementation.
  Our bill gives EPA sustained sources of funding and ensures that the 
EPA's priorities are not overwhelmed by private interests to ensure 
that the program we implement is a risk-based system. Additionally, the 
bill allows EPA to develop cost-effective final regulations but without 
the high procedural hurdles in the underlying statute, strikes an 
appropriate balance between Federal and State action, gives States the 
right to coenforce Federal standards. This will give a State's attorney 
general the ability to move when the Federal Government may not be 
moving, and it leaves State civil actions alone and gives no special 
advantage to either side in litigation.
  We are on the verge of historic reform, decades in the making and 
decades overdue. TSCA is the last of the environmental laws from the 
1960s and 1970s left to be updated. Some days you might not think we 
could pass a major environmental law in Congress, but we have proven 
that wrong and we have a very strong bill.
  Our bill finally gives the EPA the authority it needs to set clear 
guidance for the EPA to evaluate new and existing chemicals and to 
protect the American people. That is why support for this bill was so 
strong and continued to build--from environmental, conservation, good 
government, industry, and health and labor groups.
  We will be working to reconcile the bill with the House legislation. 
This is historic reform. The old TSCA will be obsolete. We will have a 
cop on the beat and will finally be able to protect our kids from toxic 
  I wish to again thank Senator Vitter. I am proud to work with him on 
this bill. We may have disagreed many times on other issues, and the 
negotiations were sometimes difficult, but we stayed at the table, 
listened to all sides, and looked for solutions instead of roadblocks, 
and I thank Senator Vitter for that.
  I also want to again thank the many colleagues who worked with us to 
ensure that we have the best possible bill. At every step of the way, 
we had Senators from both sides of the aisle step forward, make 
suggestions, join the bill, cosponsor, and helped to move us forward.
  It wouldn't be right to finish this afternoon without mentioning the 
staff. The staff in the Senate do an incredible job in terms of getting 
focused on the issues, learning about them in depth, working with each 
other, and many times moving roadblocks out of the way.
  We had a number of staff members who worked on this legislation. 
Dimitri Karakitsos worked for Senator Vitter when Senator Vitter was 
chairman and he now works for Chairman Inhofe. Dimitri has been amazing 
in terms of his staff ability and his understanding. We really 
appreciate all of his help.
  I wish to also thank Chairman Inhofe's staff director, Ryan Jackson;

[[Page S8874]]

Zak Baig, with Senator Vitter; Colin Peppard, with Senator Carper; 
Adrian Deveny, with Senator Merkley; Emily Enderle, with Senator 
Whitehouse; Adam Zipkin, with Senator Cory Booker; Michal Freedhoff, 
with Senator Markey; Jasmine Hunt, with Senator Durbin; and Lisa 
Hummon-Jones, with Senator Coons.
  I have mentioned the great work that Jonathan Black, a member of my 
staff, has done, but we have also had incredible work by my legislative 
director, Andrew Wallace, and all of my staff at various points. This 
legislation has been a heavy burden, and my staff worked hard to get 
this legislation completed. I truly appreciate the hard work they have 
done, including my chief of staff and everybody in the office.
  We also had the opportunity to consult with and ask for help from the 
Senate legislative counsel. They worked to turn around text quickly at 
crucial points, and that makes all the difference in the world--to have 
text, get it looked at, get the changes made, and get back to the 
individuals who are involved.
  Michelle Johnson-Weider played a key role, as did Deanna Edwards. I 
am sure there were others over there who also helped us out. This is 
not a definitive list. There were also many others.
  I wish to conclude by thanking, again, our bipartisan partners. 
Senator Vitter and I have been working on this for years. We took it up 
after Senator Lautenberg passed away. Senator Vitter was on the 
committee as the ranking member and the chairman--and back and forth--
and then Senator Inhofe took over.
  I remember when we had a meeting with Senator Inhofe, and he took a 
real interest in this legislation. He has incredible calm, steady 
judgment in terms of pulling together what needs to happen to get a 
bill done in this sometimes hyperpartisan atmosphere. As chairman, he 
was always willing to listen to the people on the committee, off the 
committee, and pull people together to help them find common ground on 
this bill.
  With that, we look forward to working with our House colleagues. Many 
of us served in the House. We served with House Members Fred Upton, 
Frank Pallone, John Shimkus, and Representative Tonko. These are some 
of the key people who will be working on this in the House, and we look 
forward to working with them and their staff and each other to 
reconcile these bills.
  The House has some very good ideas in its bill. We have been a little 
more expansive and covered more areas, and I hope they will work with 
us on that. We look forward to working with them and putting the two 
bills together and then getting this passed early next year.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. SULLIVAN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.