House Approves Shimkus Legislation to Protect the Internet & Improve Chemical Safety
WASHINGTON – Two bills authored by Congressman John Shimkus (R, Illinois-15) passed the House of Representatives today with overwhelming bipartisan support. The DOTCOM Act would protect and preserve congressional oversight of a critical transfer of the Internet’s Domain Name System (DNS), while the TSCA Modernization Act offers consumers greater confidence in the safety of American-made chemicals and the products that contain them.
H.R. 805, the Domain Openness Through Continued Oversight Matters (DOTCOM) Act:
“The DNS is so critical to the day-to-day operation of the global Internet that management of the system should not be entrusted to government bureaucrats in Washington or elsewhere,” said Shimkus. “My DOTCOM Act ensures the upcoming transfer away from government hands is done responsibility, with necessary and meaningful congressional oversight to protect the free and open Internet.”
Shimkus remarks on the DOTCOM Act as prepared for delivery:
“Thank you Mr. Speaker. Today we are here to consider H.R. 805, the DOTCOM Act. I first introduced this legislation last Congress and I am proud to see it brought to the floor today. The DOTCOM Act is a great example of what we can get done by working together and builds on the Energy and Commerce Committee’s growing record of success.
Mr. Speaker, as many of my colleagues know, from the time the administration announced their intent to transition the IANA functions, I’ve had serious concerns about the potential risks associated with the move. I’ve said time and again that this is far too important to rush and that we must carefully consider all of the potential consequences and outcomes before any transition occurs.
My bill would require a period of 30 legislative days for us to review any proposal that NTIA receives from the multistakeholder community and ICANN. This allows us to hear from our constituents and consult with outside experts before we decide if ICANN's proposal is satisfactory. If, in this review period allowed only through passage of the DOTCOM Act, we find that ICANN and/or its proposal does not adequately protect the free and open Internet, Congress can then take further action to either completely stop the transfer or require more safeguards to be put in place.
Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, the DOTCOM Act requires NTIA to renew their contract to continue these important stewardship functions with ICANN before it expires in September. Everyone agrees that the contract should remain with NTIA while this process moves forward. DOTCOM is the vehicle to make sure this does in fact happen. Extending the contract takes the pressure off of making a rushed transition and perhaps making mistakes. We get one bite at the apple on this and we need to make sure it’s done correctly.
Mr. Speaker, before I relinquish my time, I want to say that I’m very proud of the work that has been done on this bill in the Energy and Commerce Committee, particularly by Chairmen Upton and Walden and Ranking Members Pallone and Eshoo. We wouldn’t be here today without their hard work and also the work of the staff, particularly David Redl, Kelsey Guyselman, Margaret McCarthy, David Goldman and Tiffany Guarascio.
Mr. Speaker, clearly this is an issue that has brought both sides together for the best interests of all Americans. I ask for my colleagues to support the passage of H.R. 805. Thank you and I reserve the balance of my time.”
H.R. 2576, the TSCA Modernization Act:
“We are on the brink of setting up a common sense approach to protecting people from unsafe chemical exposure that will become the standard of the world,” said Shimkus. “We want our constituents to be safe and we want markets to work. This bill delivers both.”
Shimkus full remarks on the TSCA Modernization Act as prepared for delivery:
“Mr. Speaker, the TSCA Modernization Act has been a long time in the making. We actually started work on it during the last Congress. We’ve held a total of eight hearings and received testimony from a broad range of stakeholders, including the Administration. But most importantly, we’ve worked with each other, Member to Member across the aisle.
The bill before you, Mr. Speaker, reflects lessons learned over the course of the last three years in which we’ve worked on TSCA reform. First, the bill is clear and understandable. Despite the highly technical nature of chemical regulation, Members can pick up this bill, read it from beginning to end, and understand what it does and how it works.
Second, the bill does not try to be all things for all people. Major sections of TSCA are not amended at all. For example, we leave the process for new chemical review in TSCA Section 5 unchanged because it’s working pretty well right now, and changes could make it worse.
The heart of the bill is our approach to regulating chemicals already on the market. Thousands of these chemicals have been in commerce for many years, pose no known risks, and really don’t need to be regulated at all. We leave those alone. But we do allow some existing chemicals to be scientifically evaluated for risk and, if necessary, to have that risk managed through a rule by EPA.
Chemicals may be chosen for risk evaluation in one of two ways. Either EPA may select a chemical for risk evaluation based on what EPA knows may pose an unreasonable risk, or the manufacturer may designate a chemical for EPA to evaluate for risk.
Now why would a manufacturer invite EPA scrutiny of its product? There are several reasons. First, some interest or even a retailer may be raising concerns about a product and the manufacturer wants to put those concerns to rest. Or one or two states may be thinking about regulating the chemical. The state-by-state approach can spell disaster for someone trying to capture economies of scale in a national market.
What better way to put these concerns to rest than to have EPA with the scientific standards that we require, perform an objective risk evaluation? Then the EPA decision on that chemical will apply in all the States. And consumers and the public can have the confidence that the chemical is safe for its intended uses.
Another area in the legislation that required careful discussion and negotiation is pre-emption. Of course, we want to make sure national markets are just that, and not a patchwork of restrictions varying state to state. At the same time, we did not want to deny anyone a legitimate cause of action under state tort or contract law. So that is what we said. As long as the State law does not conflict with a Federal ruling, the State action may continue.
The bill has strict, but attainable deadlines for action. If EPA initiates a risk evaluation it must finish in 3 years. If a manufacturer initiates one, and includes the information EPA needs to make a decision, EPA should finish in 2 years.
Once the risk evaluation is complete, if EPA decides a rule is needed to manage the risk, EPA must propose the rule within a year.
The risk evaluation itself only asks, does the chemical present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment? That’s a science question based on a combination of hazard and actual exposure. If there is an unreasonable risk the Agency’s decision on how to manage it is based on many other factors such as cost effectiveness, whether restricting an article will actually reduce exposure, whether replacements are available, and many others.
H.R. 2576 permits EPA to regulate articles in those areas where regulation of chemical substances and mixtures alone would not be effective to reduce the identified risk, but requires EPA to be careful in addressing replacement parts that serve a commercially intended function of the original product or are needed to maintain the functionality of the original product.
We think this system sets a new standard for quality regulation. Of course, we want to be protected from harm. But we do not want needless, expensive regulation. Consumers want safe choices, not no choice at all.
Mr. Speaker, we are on the brink of setting up common sense approach to protecting people from unsafe chemical exposure that will become the standard of the world. We want our constituents to be safe and we want markets to work. This bill delivers both. I reserve the balance of my time.”